By Medicine Hat News on February 20, 2021.
All Albertans between the ages of 65 and 74 could have access to a COVID-19 vaccination by April depending on supply, Premier Jason Kenney announced Friday.
A local MLA says depending on the federal government for that supply of vaccine is not working.
“Ottawa has prevented Alberta and other provinces from internationally obtaining vaccines. Our only option is within Alberta or inter provincially,” said Drew Barnes MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat.
He says Alberta should acquire doses from Alberta or Manitoba companies, that have proven safe and effective, and should then be reimbursed by Ottawa for the cost.
“Trusting globalization and Ottawa to provide vaccines has been a failure. A future strategy must ensure that Alberta has the capacity for key health-care components.”
The News requested comment from Michaela Glasgo, MLA for Brooks-Medicine Hat, but there was no response.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro says this spring nearly 1.8 million Albertans will be able to get the vaccine in phase two of the rollout.
There are four groups in phase two. In the first are those between the ages of 65 and 74, First Nations and MÃ©tis people aged 50 to 64 and staff of licensed supportive living faculties. The second group is Albertans ages 18 to 64 with an underlying health condition and in the third, group residents of correctional facilities, homeless shelters and group homes. The fourth group includes those anyone as young as 50, or as young as 35 for First Nations and MÃ©tis people.
Alberta Health is now offering the vaccine to all seniors more than 75 years of age in retirement centres. Starting this last Wednesday, anyone born in 1946 or earlier can book an appointment for a vaccination. Details of the online or phone option to book these appointments will not be revealed until Feb. 24, a government press release states.
“… links will be posted on the COVID-19 vaccine web page. Information about supports for isolated seniors and those with mobility challenges will also be posted,” reads the release.
Barnes says the initial rollout at long-term-care facilities triggered calls to his office.
“This was because only residents in taxpayer funded beds were initially included in the first rollout. All the while, self-funded Albertans were just down the hall, and of similar age. This has now been caught up, but could have been more efficient,” said Barnes.
Shandro said on Friday he did not anticipate the need for locations where people could go without an appointment to get a vaccination, at least in the spring rollout. Arrangements are being made for pharmacists, Alberta Health Services and healthcare providers such as doctors to give the vaccine.
Kenney pointed out that the criteria for the phase two rollout could potentially change. If a supply of the AstraZeneca (not yet approved by Health Canada) vaccine was provided and if it comes with advice that it is not as effective for those more than 65 years of age, then criteria in each stage could change.
Detailed information on how eligible Albertans will receive the vaccine will be released prior to each step in phase two. The timeline for starting each phase is dependent on vaccine supply and availability.
All vaccinated individuals are expected to continue to follow health guidelines and restrictions.