Extensive infection prevention at vaccine and test sites, says AHS

·4 min read

Some of Hinton’s residents are now eligible and have been receiving the vaccine for COVID-19.

A concern was raised over the fact that vaccinations are being given at the same site as where tests for potential COVID-19 cases are being conducted, but Alberta Health Services (AHS) says that this does not pose a health risk.

“In the North Zone, there are some facilities in which both COVID-19 testing and vaccine immunization appointments are provided. We do not offer COVID-19 testing and vaccine immunization appointments simultaneously. Extensive infection prevention and control measures are continuously followed on-site and there is rigorous cleaning conducted after each clinic,” stated Diana Rinne, AHS North Zone senior communications advisor.

COVID-19 testing was moved indoors once the weather became too cold, according to Rinne.

There are currently 67 active AHS immunization clinics across the province, located in a mix of facilities, where people can book appointments, she noted on March 1. This number fluctuates and more clinics are being planned.

These clinics do not provide drop-in services in any way and patients require an appointment.

When someone is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, they must book an appointment using the online tool on the AHS website or by phoning Health Link at 811.

Once an appointment is booked with AHS, patients will be provided with a confirmation with the location, date, and time for their first and second dose appointment.

All clients wait in their cars until five minutes before their appointment and are asked not to arrive more than 10 minutes early.

“Please respect each other’s designated appointment time and help ensure everyone continues to follow Alberta’s public health guidance. We also ask that only those receiving their vaccination enter the immunization clinic unless you require assistance,” Rinne said.

Each appointment is booked approximately 10 minutes apart and the appointment takes approximately 20 to 25 minutes, including the monitoring time after the vaccine is given.

A waiting room is available for individuals to sit after their vaccination.

Clinics are also wheelchair accessible and staff is on-hand to assist individuals that require help.

AHS will make an effort to allow eligible individuals that require assistance to bring one support person during the appointment.

“A support person can be a spouse, family member, friend or caregiver. Support people must adhere to public health measures while at the clinic, including hand hygiene, continuous masking and physical distance from others,” Rinne said.

Clients must bring one piece of identification with them to the appointment, such as an Alberta Health Care card, a driver’s licence, Social Insurance Number, birth certificate, or passport.

As of Feb. 28, 235,508 COVID-19 immunizations were administered, and 88,145 Albertans were fully immunized. Fully immunized individuals received two doses of the vaccine.

There were also 114 adverse events reported following immunization.

Phase 1B of Alberta’s immunization plan includes seniors 75 years of age and over (born 1946 or earlier), and First Nations, Métis and persons 65 years of age and over living in a First Nations community or Metis Settlement.

Book online, call 811, or contact a participating pharmacy in Calgary, Edmonton or Red Deer.

Alberta took a positive step towards lifting COVID-19 restrictions on March 1, when health officials announced the province would cautiously move to Step 2 of the four-step framework to ease restrictions.

This is good news for indoor fitness and libraries as they are now allowed to open with some restrictions. Libraries must limit capacity to 15 per cent of their fire code occupancy, while indoor fitness is restricted to low intensity individual and group exercise by appointment only.

Low-intensity exercise includes weightlifting, low-intensity dance classes, yoga, barre, indoor climbing, as well as the low-intensity use of treadmills, ellipticals and related equipment.

Step two required Alberta’s hospitalizations to sit below 450 while declining, which it has been doing since Jan. 30. In recent days, there has been a plateau of overall active cases and a slight increase in testing positivity rate, admitted Premier Jason Kenney on March 1.

As a cautionary measure, changes to current restrictions for retail, children’s sports, hotels, banquets, community halls, and conference centres were delayed.

“It’s not that they were delayed until Step 3, it’s still going to be up to the cabinet COVID committee so it could come before Step 3. Those will be decisions that we make as we continue to evaluate the evidence with Dr. Hinshaw and her office,” said Tyler Shandro, Alberta Health Minister on March 1.

Strong measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 will be maintained provincewide, including wearing masks and distancing. A decision on Step 3 will be made after at least three weeks, on March 22.

As of March 2, there were 261 people in hospital due to COVID-19, including 54 in intensive care. Province-wide there are 4,631 active cases, with 257 new cases on March 2. Additional details on the current restrictions are outlined on alberta.ca.

Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice