Booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available to all adult Albertans

Wednesday's announcement is "another important milestone in the pandemic response," said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw announces 2nd and 3rd cases of omicron in province

Health Minister Jason Copping announced Wednesday that Alberta will offer booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults. (Government of Alberta)

The province is making booster shots available to all adult Albertans.

Starting Thursday, all Albertans aged 60 and older can book appointments for a booster dose of mRNA vaccine six months after receiving their second doses.

First appointments will be available beginning Monday, Health Minister Jason Copping announced Wednesday at a news conference.

"Current evidence suggests that vaccines give long-lasting protection against severe disease and hospitalization, but their effectiveness against infection can decrease over time," Copping said.

At the same update, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, revealed Alberta has recorded two more cases of the omicron variant, bringing the total in the province to three.

Only people aged 60 should be booking appointments for boosters at this time, Copping said.

"Going forward we will open up bookings to additional age groups as long as we have supply."

'Older people first'

Other Albertans aged 18 and older will be notified when the next age group is able to book appointments for booster shots. Additional age groups will be announced as quickly as possible, he said.

"We're offering third doses to older people first … because older people are at an increased risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19."

Eligible individuals can book appointments for third doses online with participating pharmacies by using the Alberta vaccine booking system. Albertans can also call 811, participating pharmacies or participating physicians' offices. 

"Today's announcement on the expansion of our vaccination program is another important milestone in the pandemic response," said Hinshaw.

"The protection against severe disease and hospitalization remains high, even after two doses for most individuals," she said. "But those who are older, and those with chronic conditions, have a greater risk of severe outcomes if they have breakthrough infection."

Copping said the province is not changing the definition of full immunization to mean three doses at this time.

"We are still considering two doses — and the Janssen shot as one dose — as eligible for the [restrictions exemption program]," Copping said.

"We'll take a look at this as we go forward."

Two more omicron cases

Hinshaw also announced two more cases of the new omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19.

The cases were confirmed in a traveller returning from South Africa and the Netherlands, and a household contact.

On Tuesday, Hinshaw confirmed the first case of omicron in a traveller returning from Nigeria and the Netherlands.

The first case identified in Alberta was in someone unvaccinated against COVID-19, Alberta Health told CBC. The two additional omicron variant cases announced Wednesday were in people who were fully vaccinated, Alberta Health said. 

The province reported 430 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, with 424 people in Alberta hospitals with the disease, including 79 in intensive care.

Seven more deaths were reported, bringing the total number of Albertans to die due to COVID-19 to 3,255.


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