Alberta moves into Phase 2B of vaccine rollout, pauses use of AstraZeneca

Mar 29 2021, 3:34 pm

The province announced on Monday that Alberta will be moving into Phase 2B of its vaccine rollout program beginning on Tuesday, March 30.

Appointments for vaccines will be expanded to include nearly one million individuals who have underlying health conditions that would put them at high risk if they were to contract COVID-19.

A complete list of qualifying health conditions can be found on the Alberta government’s website, and individuals do not require a doctor’s note or proof of these conditions to be eligible to receive the vaccine.

Starting on Tuesday, Albertans born in 1963 or earlier who have eligible health conditions will be able to book appointments through participating pharmacies that have vaccine supply in Calgary, Edmonton, and Red Deer.

Over the next week, as more vaccine supply becomes available, pharmacies in other communities across Alberta will also begin to offer appointments to those who qualify under Phase 2B.

For people who would prefer to book their vaccination through Alberta Health Services, appointments will become available starting April 5 for those eligible in Phase 2B who were born in 1959 or earlier. Additional birth years in Phase 2B will roll out as more vaccines arrive.

These appointments can be booked through the AHS online booking system or by calling 811.

At this time, Alberta will be temporarily suspending the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for those under the age of 55, along with the rest of Canada.

This is a precautionary measure that is being taken across the country to allow Health Canada to gather more info as rare instances of blood clots in Europe are investigated.

“While all available data and evidence shows no increase in the overall risk of blood clots for those who receive AstraZeneca, in a very small number of people who received the vaccine, a blood clot in the brain was reported four to 20 days after the vaccine,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.

Dr. Hinshaw noted that these incidents are rare, and, at this point, do seem to be linked to AstraZeneca, possibly through an immune response.

“There is no evidence of any similar issues linked to the other vaccines that we are using in Alberta. There have also been no reported cases of these blood clots following immunization in Alberta, or anywhere in Canada,” Dr. Hinshaw assured Albertans.

She added that anyone under the age of 55 who has already received a dose of AstraZeneca vaccine is not considered to be at high risk of blood clots.

“However, safety is always our top priority. This pause will allow Health Canada to conduct further assessments and gather more information from around the world.”

AstraZeneca will continue to be offered safely to individuals over the age of 55 as more doses arrive in the coming weeks.

Also on Monday, Alberta reported 545 new COVID-19 cases, raising the province’s active infection count to 7,922.

There were 249 additional cases of variants of concern identified over the past 24 hours, bringing the provincial total to 2,152 variant cases, representing 27.2% of all active cases.

Currently, 288 Albertans are in hospital with COVID-19, including 64 in intensive care.

No additional deaths related to the virus were reported, leaving the province’s death toll at 1,983.

Dr. Hinshaw reported that more than 608,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have now been administered in Alberta. She asked that we be patient and kind as we wait for vaccine supply and appointments in the province, and to help those who may need it.

Dr. Hinshaw will provide another live update on Thursday afternoon.

Elle McLeanElle McLean

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