Alberta Health Services (AHS) has started Phase 2A of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan, adding 37,000 Albertans eligible to be immunized. By the end of April, one million Albertans will be eligible for vaccinations.
As of Monday, anyone between 65 and 74 is now eligible for immunization. Any First Nation, Métis or Inuit person who is at least 50 can also get vaccinated.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Monday adults born in 1948 can book a vaccine Tuesday at 10 a.m. This one-year-increment-per-day pattern will continue throughout the phase.
“If AHS is not booking online for your birth year yet or if the pharmacies near you are all full right now, please don’t worry,” said Hinshaw. “More appointments will be made available in the coming days and weeks as more vaccines arrive.”
Hinshaw said AHS is starting Phase 2B and 2C sometime in April.
Phase 2B includes anyone who is pregnant or diagnosed with severe learning disabilities, developmental delays or severe neuromuscular conditions. This includes anyone with Down’s syndrome or cerebral palsy. Anyone hospitalized last year for a mental illness or substance use disorder will qualify for the vaccine.
Anyone with severe underlying health conditions will also be eligible. These conditions include chronic heart disease; people who have received a solid organ, bone marrow or stem cell transplant; people who have been diagnosed with or treated for cancer in the past year; diabetics requiring insulin or other medications; and people suffering from severe obesity or chronic liver, lung or kidney disease.
Hinshaw said a doctor’s note or proof of health condition will not be required to book a vaccine appointment.
“We will be operating on the honours system which is the approach being taken by Ontario and other provinces,” she said.
Phase 2C, which is expected for April, includes all health care workers providing direct in-person patient care or immunization services. Physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, and other regulated health care professionals and support staff in direct contact with patients are eligible.
Health care workers on reserves and students undertaking their placement practicums in clinical areas are also eligible. Hinshaw said it was also important to include family support people for residents living in a continuing care facility in Phase 2C.
Other eligible Albertans in Phase 2C include caregivers of children with a high-risk underlying health condition but are too young to get the vaccine. Employees at meat packing plants will also be included.
Sites where people live in close proximity together will be getting the vaccine. This includes residents at correctional facilities, homeless shelters and group homes.
“Vaccines save lives and their benefits far, far outweigh any risks,” said Hinshaw. “I continue encouraging everyone to book an appointment to be immunized when your time comes.”
Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today