By GILLIAN SLADE on January 13, 2021.
Three local physicians report they have recently had an opportunity to receive a Pfizer COVID vaccination.
Dr. Debakanta Jena, chief of surgery at Medicine Hat Regional Hospital, says he was happy to get the first of two doses of the vaccine last week. He hopes the vaccination rollout will help the community get “back to some sort of normalcy” in the near future. Jena said he completely trusts the COVID vaccine and the science behind it.
Dr. Paul Parks, emergency physician at MHRH, says he received the vaccine on Dec. 31 and experienced virtually no side effect.
“No issues with the vaccine at all. Very mild ache to my arm for about 12 hours at most. Very similar to the influenza shot,” said Parks.
Local family physician Dr. Nicoelle Wanner hopes people will be encouraged to also get the vaccine when they have an opportunity to do so.
“Hopefully others from Medicine Hat will be more inclined to receive vaccines if they see that health professionals are willing to do so themselves,” said Wanner.
About 49,000 doses of COVID vaccine, both the Pfizer and Moderna brands, have been administered in the province so far.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney claimed that by next week Alberta will have used all the vaccine that has been made available through the federal government.
Alberta Health is still not releasing information on how many doses have been given by zone or by city. Medicine Hat received 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on or about Dec. 23. It is unclear whether that supply has been used up.
Last Friday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, issued a directive allowing doctors, nurses and pharmacists, who are not employees of Alberta Health Services, to administer the vaccine.
“There are many regulated health practitioners who are authorized and have the knowledge, skill and competence to issue a vaccine. This directive will help us empower as many of our dedicated health-care workers as possible to join the broader team and help immunize Albertans,” said Hinshaw.
Exactly when pharmacists will be providing the vaccine is unclear.
“Right now, we are exploring ways to expand capacity using additional regulated health practitioners, including pharmacists. This work is underway, but not yet finalized. We will update Albertans in the coming weeks as this work unfolds,” said Tom McMillan, spokesperson for Alberta Health.
Kenney says that by the end of January the province should be able to handle giving 50,000 doses of vaccine every week and by the end of March 200,000 a week. These numbers are contingent on being able to obtain enough of the vaccine.