Alberta moves up timeline to give 2nd doses of COVID-19 vaccine, Kenney says
People vaccinated in March can book starting Tuesday
Alberta reached a turning point in its COVID-19 vaccine rollout on Tuesday, announcing that everyone who has currently received a first dose will be able to begin booking second shots between now and the end of June, Premier Jason Kenney announced.
People who got their first shot in March can book their second starting Tuesday afternoon, Kenney said. Those vaccinated in April can book second doses starting on June 14, while people who got their shot in May can book starting June 28.
"All Albertans with their first dose will be second-dose eligible by the end of June. And this is fantastic. It's also a big part of why the Open for Summer plan, we are confident, will work," Kenney said.
In March, Alberta joined other Canadian provinces in delaying second doses up to four months, based on the guidelines of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).
In Alberta, 63.4 per cent of people 12 and older have already been vaccinated with one or both doses.
Alberta reported 209 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday along with one new death. The province's test positivity rate was at 5.1 per cent.
Kenney put Tuesday's numbers in contrast with the height of the third wave three weeks ago.
Active cases are down to 6,771, a drop of 73 per cent. There were 438 people in hospital as of Tuesday, a drop of nearly 300 compared to May 11.
Alberta administered 27,377 vaccine doses Monday, including 21,631 first doses.
Advice on AstraZeneca
Albertans who received an AstraZeneca dose in March or earlier can book second-dose appointments starting Tuesday. Anyone who received it in April or May should wait until eight weeks have passed before booking.
That group will get a choice on their second shot: they can get another AstraZeneca vaccine or either of the mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said the decision to offer a choice is based on scientific evidence and new recommendations from NACI.
"We are in the very fortunate situation where mRNA and AstraZeneca vaccines are both available and there will not be a delay in receiving either vaccine, whatever option you choose," she said.
"Both options are valid and both options will count as a complete series in Canada."
Kenney and Hinshaw, as well as Health Minister Tyler Shandro, all received AstraZeneca as their first dose.
Shandro implored Albertans to wait their turn before booking.
"Attempting to book before your eligibility date means someone else risks not getting their shot in the appropriate time and it causes delays for AHS, it causes delays for our pharmacy partners and their staff who have to cancel appointments for those who are not yet eligible," Shandro said.
Alberta launched the first stage of its reopening Tuesday. Patios and hair salons can reopen, retail capacity was increased slightly to 15 per cent and the size of permitted outdoor gatherings is back up to 10 people.
Stage 2 — which would include such measures as allowing venues like movie theatres and casinos to reopen — could begin as early as June 10. Almost all of the public health regulations are expected to be rescinded by early July.
Alberta also announced Tuesday that it has resumed screening all positive COVID-19 cases for variants. Screening for variants had been scaled back to a handful of specific groups to take pressure off provincial labs during the third wave.
Here is how Alberta's active cases broke down by health zone on Tuesday:
- Calgary zone: 3,131
- Edmonton zone: 2,017
- North zone: 1,105
- Central zone: 923
- South zone: 462
- Unknown: 8