Alberta will likely administer the province’s first COVID-19 vaccination on Tuesday, with thousands more doses set to arrive next week, according to Premier Jason Kenney.
The premier said the province received 3,900 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Monday, after Canada’s first shipment arrived on Canadian soil on Sunday evening.
On Monday night, Kenney tweeted a video of himself wearing a UPS jacket at Calgary International Airport.
“We’ve just watched UPS unload our first 3,900 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine,” he said with dramatic music being played in the background. “It has now arrived here in Alberta as of 5 p.m.”
Kenney said the shipment came from a Pfizer production facility in Belgium, with a stop on the way in Louisville, Ky.
“We hope to have our first Albertan to get the first dose of the vaccine within the next 24 hours,” he said Monday night. “We’ve got ICU nurses queued up to be the first to receive this.
“This is a game-changer. This is a happy day after these nine tough months.”
Kenney offered thanks to various entities for the vaccine’s arrival, including Alberta Health Services, the federal government and scientists working on vaccines.
The vaccine arrived early. Earlier Monday, the government said the shipment was expected Tuesday and the the first vaccine would be administered in the province on Wednesday.
“With the early arrival of vaccine, the premier is hopeful we can bump up those timelines. We are working with AHS to get immunizations started as soon as possible,” a spokesperson for the premier said Tuesday morning.
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the vaccines will be safely stored at the designated sites in Calgary and Edmonton. The ideal storage temperature for the Pfizer vaccine is -70 C.
Training is underway to start immunizing health-care professionals, Shandro said in an update on the rollout plan Monday afternoon.
“No vaccine is 100 per cent effective, but vaccination means that doctors, nurses and others can go to work with less fear of getting sick themselves, or bringing COVID home to their families or exposing their patients without knowing it,” Shandro said.
“Albertans can be confident that this vaccine is safe and that it will be administered efficiently without compromising quality,” Paul Wynnyk, chair of Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccine task force, said.
The first round of the vaccine will be given to health-care workers, including ICU doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and long-term care workers in Calgary and Edmonton.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said the process for who gets the vaccine first has been implemented by Alberta Health Services.
“My understanding is they have received lists of all those who work in intensive care units and all respiratory therapists, and that individual phone calls are being made to those people who are on that list,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.
“The intention is to offer it to those people who meet those criteria in those locations.”
Shandro also announced that an additional 25,350 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are set to arrive in Alberta next week. All of the approximately 29,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be administered to health-care workers, Shandro said.
The vaccine has to be administered at the site at which it was delivered, which is why it will be given to health-care workers first.
Shandro said the province will get to administering vaccine to long-term care residents “very, very soon.”
Shandro said all of the 29,000 doses will be administered as a first dose and none of the shots will need to be held back for second doses. The Pfizer vaccine requires a second dose to be effective, and should be administered about a month after the first dose.
Wynnyk said the province is ready to receive the second shipment of the vaccine at eight sites across Alberta. Ultra-cold freezers have been installed at all of these sites and dry ice has also been ordered, Wynnyk said.
Wynnyk said eight more cold storage units will arrive by the end of December and an additional 20 are scheduled to arrive in January.
Shandro also announced that Alberta expects doses the Moderna vaccine to arrive in the province by the end of the month, pending approval for use by Health Canada.
“Each vaccine, before it is licensed for use, must go through a rigorous series of trials and show evidence that it is both safe and effective,” Hinshaw said.
“The timelines that we are following is part of our commitment to Albertans — as part of the work that we do with Health Canada — that vaccines will be available only when they have gone through all of those regulatory requirements to make sure that we’re only offering vaccines that have met all of those standards for safety and effectiveness.”
Further details surrounding the number of doses and rollout plan of the Moderna vaccine will be announced as they become available.
The province noted the Moderna vaccine does not require ultra-cold storage like the Pfizer vaccine, so the initial shipment will be used to immunize residents at long-term care locations beginning with those at highest risk, including two First Nations seniors facilities.
Alberta’s overall vaccine rollout plan
As more shipments arrive in early January, the province said immunization will focus on priority populations and will include residents of long-term care and designated supportive living facilities, followed by seniors aged 75 and over and First Nations on reserve, Inuit and on-settlement Metis individuals aged 65 and over.
Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout plan is expected to start by April 2021 and will be targeted to the next groups of prioritized populations. Final decisions regarding eligibility in Phase 2 have not yet been determined, according to the province.
Phase 3 will involve rolling out vaccinations to the general Alberta population, and is anticipated to start later in 2021.
Wynnyk stressed that Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services has the equipment it needs to administer all of the vaccines.
“If more vaccine becomes available or arrives earlier than expected, we will — as I like to say — be ready to roll.”
“We’re getting these vaccines out as fast as humanly possible,” Shandro added. “I have to emphasize that this is a process that will take months.”
Alberta’s daily COVID-19 numbers released
Alberta recorded a daily high of 1,887 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, along with 15 additional deaths from the disease. Alberta’s death toll has now risen to 733.
Of the 15 deaths announced Monday, eight were in the Edmonton zone, six were in the Calgary zone and one was in the North zone.
There were two deaths linked to the outbreak at Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre in Edmonton Zone — a woman in her 70s and a man in his 100s. A man in his 80s who was linked to the outbreak at Capital Care Strathcona also died. A woman in her 70s linked to the outbreak at McDaniel Manor also passed. A woman in her 80s linked to the outbreak at Capital Care Lynnwood died, as well as a man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at Capital Care Dickinsfield. All of these deaths included comorbidities, according to Alberta Health.
A man in his 50s and a man in his 60s from the Edmonton zone also died. There are no known comorbidities with these two cases, Alberta Health said.
Five of the deaths in the Calgary zone were linked to continuing care and all included comorbidities, according to Alberta Health. They included a man in his 70s at Carewest George Boyack, a man in his 60s at Dulcina Hospice Calgary, a man in his 90s at Sage Hill Retirement Residences, a man in his 70s at Bethany Riverview and a woman in her 70s at Dulcina Hospice Calgary.
A man in his 80s from the Calgary zone also died. Alberta Health said comorbidities in this case are unknown.
The death in the North zone was a man in his 60s linked to the outbreak at Queen Elizabeth Hospital with unknown comorbidities.
As of Monday, there were 716 Albertans in hospital with COVID-19, 136 of whom were being treated in intensive care.
–With files from Global News’ Phil HeidenreichView link »