Albertans born in 1946 or earlier can book COVID-19 vaccine appointments starting Wednesday
Alberta reported 267 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 11 more deaths
Albertans born in 1946 or earlier can begin booking appointments to get COVID-19 vaccinations starting on Wednesday, the province's top public health doctor says.
More than 230,000 seniors age 75 and older will be eligible for the vaccine, along with all those in Phase 1A who are still receiving theirs, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference on Tuesday.
"This is a massive expansion for our province and a big step forward," she said. "If you're 74 and turning 75 this year, you are eligible for the vaccine."
Those who live in long-term care centres won't have to book appointments, because Alberta Health Services has already contacted all those sites, she said.
People who live independently can start booking appointments at 8 a.m. Wednesday through the AHS online booking tool or by calling Health Link at 811.
"For many folks, I know it will feel like you have been waiting a very long time for the vaccine, and you are keen to get a first dose as soon as possible," Hinshaw said.
"All Alberta seniors who want vaccines will be able to get their first dose before the end of March. It may just take a little time to get your appointment, as availability depends on the timing of the supply we receive in the province."
Appointments will be available seven days a week from 8:20 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. at 58 sites around the province, Hinshsaw said, and as more doses arrive those hours will be extended.
No walk-ins will be allowed that help ensure that no doses are wasted.
Family members are allowed to book appointments for seniors but should make sure they have photo ID or an Alberta health card.
Seniors who can't find transportation to their appointments can call 211 for help.
No vaccine stockpiles
Unlike the yearly influenza campaign, the province does not have large stockpiles of the vaccines ready to go province-wide, Hinshaw said. Instead, Alberta has to rely on new shipments, which should increase with each coming week.
"It will take time to immunize all our eligible seniors and there will likely be a few hiccups along the way as we continue expanding," she said.
"AHS will start booking appointments tomorrow but please be patient. Given the risks of serious outcomes from COVID-19 for these individuals, we expect there will be enormous demand for immunization.
"We have increased staffing for Health Link to make sure that any senior who wants an appointment can get an appointment as quickly as possible, but we know this will take weeks to achieve."
WATCH | Dr. Hinshaw asks Albertans for patience during vaccine rollout
In coming months, AHS will announce details of vaccinations to be offered at pharmacies and by family physicians.
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The province reported 267 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 11 more deaths from the illness.
Across the province there were 4,516 active cases, with 326 patients being treated in hospitals, including 51 in ICU beds.
Laboratories completed about 6,300 tests over the past 24 hours, with a positivity rate of about 4.4 per cent.
A total of 1,853 people have now died from the illness in Alberta since the pandemic began last March.
The regional breakdown of active cases was:
- Calgary zone: 1,612
- Edmonton zone: 930
- North zone: 875
- Central zone: 745
- South zone: 350
- Unknown: four