Mayor Gondek and emergency agency chief urge Calgarians to get vaccinated as Omicron surges

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Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek gave an update on Wednesday regarding the city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (City of Calgary - image credit)
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek gave an update on Wednesday regarding the city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (City of Calgary - image credit)

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek and the head of the city's emergency management agency are urging Calgarians to get vaccinated or book their booster shots if eligible as the highly contagious Omicron variant drives up infection rates around the province.

Susan Henry, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), joined Gondek on Wednesday to give an update on the city's response to the pandemic.

Henry noted that the mobile vaccination program has been extended. It has provided over 4,000 shots to date, and it will continue to operate as long as there is demand for the service, she said.

The mobile vaccination stations are set up at public libraries, recreation facilities and shopping malls. People can check the city's COVID-19 website for details.

Henry and Gondek stressed during Wednesday's update that the city continues to view vaccination and the wearing of masks as key to winning the battle against the pandemic, particularly in the current, Omicron-driven fifth wave.

"I cannot stress enough how important that is," Gondek said, adding that Calgarians should be mindful of the toll that the prolonged pandemic is having on health-care workers.

"Do yourselves and them a favour by getting vaccinated," she said.

Henry noted the city's municipal emergency plan remains activated to respond to the pandemic. She said the two key bylaws related to COVID-19 — one mandating people wear a face covering or mask in indoor public spaces and public vehicles, the other requiring businesses to require proof of vaccination from patrons — remain in effect.

"With the highly transmissible Omicron variant on the rise, we must do everything we can to continue to protect ourselves, each other, and the health-care system," said Henry.

"Get vaccinated and, if eligible, get your booster shots, wear a mask in indoor public spaces, keep a safe distance from others, and follow the provincial public health orders and municipal bylaws to prevent the spread."

The city says 93 per cent of its employees are fully vaccinated. However, with infection rates on the rise, some services are being affected, Henry said.

"Omicron is again throwing another curve ball at the city," she said.

"The sharp rise in cases means more sickness and more absences among our city staff."

Henry said recreation programs, in particular, have felt the impact. The city's winter swim lessons and play school have been postponed until Jan. 10, and public skate times have been cancelled until further notice at all city-operated arenas except Village Square Leisure Centre and Southland Leisure Centre.

"Calgary Recreation continues to actively monitor the impact that Omicron is having on staffing at all of the rec facilities and programs," she said.

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