Alberta’s Vaccine Rollout Gains Momentum

·4 min read

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney provided a COVID-19 vaccine rollout update on April 12, 2021, with new information for Albertans.

Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccine program continues to gain momentum, with over 1,300 pharmacies and 103 immunization sites now vaccinating Albertans. More locations in the province will be offering vaccinations in the weeks to come, with the province on track to administer more than 300,000 does a week.

The province also continues to expand its vaccination program by opening up the eligibility guidelines to include more Albertans. In addition to the first phases of the province’s program (Early Phase, Phase 1, and Phase 2), opening up vaccination eligibility from December 2020 through March 15, Alberta has continued to offer immunizations to increasingly more Albertans.

· Phase 2B of the program started on March 30, increasing vaccination eligibility to Albertans aged 16 to 74 with qualifying high-risk underlying health conditions. All members of this group were eligible to be vaccinated as of April 7.

· Phase 2 (AstraZeneca) started on April 6, opening up eligibility to Albertans aged 55 to 64.

· Phase 2C started on April 12, increasing eligibility to include:

-Healthcare workers and professionals, and their office or support staff.

-Individuals who work in patient care facilities or provide service directly to clients in the community for specific organizations and agencies and students in placement practicums in clinical areas.

-Healthcare workers who work on First Nation reserves and Metis Settlements.

-Phase 2C will open up to include more groups of Albertans in the coming weeks. These groups will include residents and workers at eligible congregate care settings, front-line responders, some essential workers, and caregivers of Albertans who are at the highest risk for severe outcomes.

As of April 12, 2021, more than 684,000 Albertans have already received at least their first dose of vaccine, and more than 1.7 million Albertans are eligible at this time for the COVID-19 vaccine. If vaccines continue to be provided as expected, all adults in Alberta will be offered their first dose of vaccine by the end of June.

Rapid flow clinics opened in Grande Prairie, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Fort McMurray, and Medicine Hat on April 12, along with two “mega clinics” in Calgary and Edmonton that are expected to administer up to 1000 doses per hour.

As of April 13, selected pharmacies (in Edmonton and Calgary to begin with) will start to offer walk-in bookings for immunizations with the AstraZeneca vaccine for eligible Albertans. The Alberta Blue Cross website will list the sites offering walk-in bookings.

Alberta Health and the Alberta Medical Association continue to work together to include physician clinics in the province’s vaccination program to administer immunizations. More information on this aspect of the program is expected to be announced soon.

With Alberta’s vaccination efforts continuing to ramp up, Premier Kenney predicts the province to be “back to normal” by mid-September. He explained every day, tens of thousands more Albertans gain immunity to COVID-19 through the vaccine rollout. In the coming weeks, roughly a quarter of Albertans are expected to have some immunity, whether through vaccination or having had the virus. By the end of May, almost half of Albertans are expected to have this level of protection, increasing to about two-thirds of the province’s population by the end of June. Nearly three-quarters of Albertans are projected to gain the same level of immunity by mid-September. At this point, it is expected that the province will be able to go back to normal entirely. This plan is being referred to as “The Path To Recovery.”

Here is an outline of The Path To Recovery

Transition (About 22% Immune)

· Easing of restrictions is possible if the Path Forward metrics are met.

· There will still be limits on gatherings.

· Strong health measures will still be in place.

Stage 1 (About 48% Immune)

Potential for:

· Increased capacity limits.

· Larger groups to be allowed to gather.

· Some business restrictions will remain.

· Masking and social distancing will still be mandatory.

· Isolation rules will stay in place.

Stage 2 (About 64% Immune)

Potential for:

· No formal restrictions.

· Fairs, Festivals, and sporting events will be allowed to proceed, likely with some precautions.

· Masking and distancing will be encouraged but not mandatory.

· Isolation rules will still stay in place.

Stage 3 (About 72% Immune)

Potential for:

· Full return to normal.

· K – 12 school guidelines will depend on vaccine.

· No masking.

· No isolation.

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette