Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the correct number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19. 630 CHED regrets the error.
After news that Canada’s supply of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine would be delayed, Alberta’s health minister says the vaccine schedule will be affected, but the province will continue giving out whatever vaccine it does receive to those priority groups.
“This is unfortunate news and we are all disappointed,” Tyler Shandro said. “However we will not stop.”
On Friday morning, Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine logistics, said shipments of the Pfizer vaccine will be reduced by an average of 50 per cent for the next four weeks.
The delay was caused because the company is scaling up its European manufacturing capacity. That will result in a “short period” that will affect the vaccine supply.
“This expansion work means that Pfizer is temporarily reducing deliveries to all countries receiving vaccine manufactured at its European facility – and that includes Canada,” said Procurement Minister Anita Anand.
Shandro said the delay will result in more time being needed to complete the immunization of priority health-care workers in Phase 1A of the province’s plan as well as seniors over the age of 75, and all Indigenous seniors living on reserve over the of 65 (Phase 1B).
“We had hoped to announce the start of these vaccinations in the coming days, but that is now in question,” Shandro said.
However, he assured those in the Phase 1 groups that their placement will not change, some appointments just may need to be delayed.
“They will continue to be a priority for us getting the vaccines to them.”
Shandro said the provincial government is waiting for more information from the feds on exactly how this will impact Alberta.
But according to Dr. Laura McDougall, a senior medical officer of health with Alberta Health Services, the change will impact the timing of some people’s second doses.
“There’s clearly some people and some planned doses that aren’t going to be able to go ahead as scheduled,” she said.
“We have enough immunizers and more than enough people wanting to be immunized. What we need is more vaccine.”
But Anand assured Canadians the delay was temporary.
“We remain on track to have enough approved vaccines for everyone who wishes to be vaccinated by the end of September 2021.”
Alberta Health Services will continue to increase vaccine capacity across the province so those sites will be ready when the vaccine shipments pick up again, Shandro said.
According to Fortin, next week’s shipments won’t be drastically impacted. The “most profound” impact will be in the week of January 25.
“The allocations will then begin to scale back up in… the first two weeks of February, and then return to what we expected for in February and onwards,” Fortin said.
Both Fortin and Anand said Pfizer pledged to start ramping up its delivery schedule again in February.
Shandro also said the province expects to have staff and residents of all long-term care sites and designated supportive living sites vaccinated by Monday.
The news of the delay comes as Alberta Health reported an additional 13 deaths in the province due to COVID-19 had been reported in the last 24 hours.
Five of the deaths occurred in the Edmonton zone. All the cases included comorbidities and all were linked to outbreaks in the zone.
A man in his 80s linked to the Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre outbreak, a woman in her 80s who was linked to the outbreak at Capital Care Norwood, a woman in her 80s who was linked to the Rivercrest Care Centre outbreak and two women in their 90s both linked to the South Terrace Continuing Care Centre outbreak have died.
There were six deaths reported in the Calgary zone. Of those, five were linked to outbreaks. All of the cases included comorbidities.
A woman in her 80s who was linked to the Dulcina Hospice Calgary outbreak, a man in his 90s who was linked to the McKenzie Town Retirement Residence outbreak, a man in his 90s linked to the Agecare Skypointe outbreak, a woman in her 80s who was linked to the outbreak at Bethany Riverview and a woman in her 90s who was linked to the outbreak at Bethany Airdrie have all died.
A man in his 60s from Calgary zone has also died. His case also included comorbidities, Alberta Health said.
Elsewhere around the province, a man in his 80s died in Central zone. His case included comorbidities. A woman in her 60s who was linked to the outbreak at William J. Cadzow – Lac La Biche Healthcare Centre in the North zone has also died. Her case included comorbidities as well.
There have now been 1,402 COVID-19 deaths in Alberta.
As of Friday’s update, there were 796 people in hospital, with 124 of those people in the ICU.
The province confirmed an additional 785 cases of COVID-19, bringing the active number of cases to 12,189 across the province.
There were 13,575 tests performed over the last 24 hours.
To date, there have been 115,370 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Alberta. Of those, 101,779 people have recovered.