Vaccination QR codes mandatory Nov. 15

·5 min read

QR codes of an Alberta vaccine record will be the only proof of vaccination accepted by operators participating in Alberta’s Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) as of Nov. 15.

To enter spaces participating in the REP, people ages 12 and older must be fully vaccinated. Those not participating in the REP must follow specific guidelines around their business such as limited capacity and earlier closure times.

Businesses use the AB Covid Records Verifier app to scan Alberta vaccine QR codes. A green checkmark appears with a valid record and the person’s legal name and date of birth. Currently in the Hinton area, 69.8 per cent of the total population has at least one COVID-19 vaccine.

Alberta’s chief medical officer, Deena Hinshaw, addressed a recent increase in the number of Albertans who received the COVID-19 vaccine but were missing their online record. In some cases, it was due to an immunization from out of province or out of country that required updating in Alberta’s system.

“However, we are also seeing instances where individuals claim they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 but they can’t provide the original documentation or the documentation they have can’t be validated,” Hinshaw said.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) cannot accept verbal history for proof of immunization and thus they recommend re-immunization of anyone without validated proof of vaccine. This is standard practice in these situations and is not specific to the COVID-19 vaccine, she said.

As of Nov. 8, hospitalizations dropped to 608 from 1,131 at the peak of hospitalizations in the current wave on Sept. 27. Of those 608, 128 remain in the ICU, compared to 267 on Sept. 28.

With a reduced strain on province’s ICUs, Alberta Health Services (AHS) said it will be reducing the number of available surge beds in order to redeploy staff to care for non-COVID patients. ICU capacity will remain above daily demand up to a planned maximum of 380 beds, as long as staff and physician availability allows.

AHS is also extending the deadline for employees to comply with its mandatory immunization policy until Nov. 30.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney told the public on Nov. 3 that booster shots or a third vaccination are available to all Albertans aged 70 and older, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI) people aged 18 and older, front-line health-care workers, and Albertans who received two doses of AstraZeneca or one dose of Jansen while abroad.

The additional doses for these groups follow the latest scientific recommendations from the National advisory committee on immunization, however there is no evidence that the general population required booster vaccinations.

Daily case counts and positivity rates across the province continue to decline. An R-value below one means the rate of transmission is decreasing. The latest provincewide R-value on Oct. 25 was 0.87 with a confidence interval of 0.84-0.90.

Looking back, Alberta’s initial wave in 2020 saw its peak on April 30 with 2,932 total cases and 89 hospitalizations. Hospitalizations later rose to 94 on July 22.

Total cases in the second wave peaked on Dec. 13 with 20,941 cases of COVID-19, while hospitalizations didn’t peak until Dec. 30 with 905 in that same wave.

The third wave peaked with the highest total active cases so far at 25,128 on May 9 and 726 hospitalizations on May 11, while the latest wave peaked at a total of 21,195 cases on Sept. 26 and 1,131 hospitalizations on Sept. 27.

During the initial wave there were no vaccines available and when hospitalizations peaked in the second wave on Dec. 30, only .3 per cent of Albertans had received one dose. By May 11, 38.3 per cent of Albertans had one dose and 7.5 per cent had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. In the most recent wave, 70.2 per cent of Albertans had one dose while 63.1 per cent were fully vaccinated during the peak of hospitalizations.

Since Jan. 1, 2021, 84 per cent of hospitalized cases and 76 per cent of COVID-19 deaths were unvaccinated or within two weeks from their first immunization date.

“In Alberta the chances of being hospitalized with COVID-19 are approximately eight times higher if you’re only partially vaccinated and 10 times higher if you’re unvaccinated. I continue to urge every eligible Albertan to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible no matter your age or health status,” Hinshaw said on Nov. 9.

Among current hospitalizations, 71.22 per cent are unvaccinated with 4.28 per cent partially vaccinated and 24.51 per cent fully vaccinated. AHS has begun administering a new monoclonal antibody therapy, called sotrovimab, for those with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms. It is the first treatment being offered, but does not replace the vaccine, Hinshaw said.

Kenney thanked the public for following the restriction guidelines following no significant increase of COVID-19 cases after Thanksgiving and Halloween. Indoor private social gatherings remain limited to two households up to a maximum of 10 vaccine-eligible, vaccinated people and no restrictions on children under 12. Indoor social gatherings are not permitted for those vaccine-eligible who are unvaccinated.

Outdoor private social gatherings are still limited to a maximum of 20 people, with two metre physical distancing between households at all times.

Contact Health Link at 811 about missing immunization records or for more information.

Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice

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