Alberta has not received confirmation of the amount of COVID-19 vaccine it will receive in two weeks’ time, but the province is still aiming to give second doses to Albertans within the 42-day window.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province does have its allocation for next week, but not for after that.
“We don’t, unfortunately, know yet how much vaccine we’ll be getting in two weeks’ time,” she said.
“Our current intention is to have the interval between the first and second dose only go a maximum of 42 days.”
The delays in Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shipments have forced Alberta to alter its rollout plan.
Effective Jan. 20, all first dose appointments for staff and physicians were postponed and all second dose appointments for staff and physicians are being rescheduled.
“Due to uncertainty around vaccine supply from the federal government, AHS is allocating the vaccine we do have to those who require a second doses within the allowable window, while continuing to offer immunization to long-term care (LTC) and designated supportive living (DSL) residents,” AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson told Global News.
“All second dose appointments for staff and physicians starting Jan. 25 are being rescheduled to 38 – 42 days after the first dose was administered.
“In some instances, that may mean moving an appointment just a few days.”
“Anyone who booked their appointment through the online booking tool is being notified of the postponement via email, text or phone call… AHS will follow up again when their option to rebook opens.
“When appointments open up in zones, a second message is sent via email text or phone call notifying each individual when they can and should go to the online booking tool to reschedule their appointment,” Williamson said.
“Those who were booked in the early phase and were not booked through the online tool are being contacted by text and automated phone call, but not via email, and are being asked to contact Health Link or local public health directly via special phone number to arrange the rebooking of their second dose appointment,” Williamson said.
AHS experienced a technical issue with its automated staff text-messaging system on vaccination appointments in the Edmonton zone on Saturday but the issue was “quickly resolved.”
Several health-care workers have told Global News their second dose appointments have been cancelled and they haven’t been able to rebook.
“Today I came to have my second dose vaccination,” said a health-care worker, said a health-care worker, who Global News agreed not to name because she feared losing her job for speaking out.
“It was booked for around 1 o’clock and when I got to the place, there was a sign on the door that says ‘no vaccinations today.’ It was just handwritten. I never got a phone call, I never got a text, I never got an email to say: ‘Hey, you’ve been cancelled.’ And you go to rebook… nothing.
“As I waited here because I was frustrated, multiple cars kept coming, multiple people kept coming and I asked the same question: did they get a call? Did they get a text? Nothing.
“Now we don’t know how to get that second one booked. Will we be out of the range?
“All these people are upset. And now it’s more frustrating… Was this first dose wasted? Will this be wasted? If we’re looking at not even getting any, why weren’t we told?”
Hinshaw was asked Wednesday about some health-care workers showing up for their vaccine appointments in south Edmonton and seeing a sign on the door saying “no vaccines today.”
While she wasn’t aware of the particular clinic in question, Hinshaw said she understands why health-care workers would be upset.
“Health-care workers who are showing up for their second dose… having their appointments shifted or moved… I can only imagine that would be incredibly frustrating.”
Hinshaw stressed that AHS is trying to give people proper notification of moved appointments.
“Be patient. I know that’s more and more difficult as this vaccine shortage has forced us to change some of our plans.”
AHS has to continually adjust its vaccine plans as the supply numbers shift, Hinshaw explained.
Alberta Health said Wednesday that 459 new cases of COVID-19 had been identified over the last 24 hours out of about 12,800 tests. That puts Alberta’s positivity rate at about 3.6 per cent.
Hinshaw said a total of 101,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered as of Wednesday and 11,000 Albertans had received both doses of the vaccine.
There are currently 604 Albertans in hospital, with 110 people in ICU.
“Despite the decline in new and active cases across the province, there is still a lot of pressure on our health-care system,” Hinshaw said.
She said hospitalizations peaked on Dec. 30 with 943. Intensive care admissions peaked at around the same time with 155. Alberta’s numbers have come down in the last few weeks.
“This is encouraging news and a sign we’re making meaningful progress,” Hinshaw said. “It also means there are just as many people in hospital as there was on Dec. 4 when our acute-care system was struggling.
“It is still feeing this strain today, which affects anyone who needs care… for COVID or any other reason.”
“It is essential that we keep restrictions in place for a little while longer,” she said.
Hinshaw stressed she understands Albertans are frustrated and tired of the restrictions and said the province is working on a framework that will give individuals and businesses a bit more heads-up as to when different sectors might reopen safely.
“We hope to update Albertans soon… on when some of the restrictions might be safely eased.”
She said Alberta has been able to reopen schools, personal wellness businesses and a few other services over the past several weeks.
As of Jan. 25, Alberta had identified 20 cases of the variant first identified in the United Kingdom and five cases of the variant first identified in South Africa. The province will update variant case numbers weekly.
Alberta Health confirmed an additional 12 COVID-19 deaths had been reported over the last 24 hours.
Of those, four were in the Edmonton zone.
A man in his 80s who was linked to the Capital Care Dickinsfield outbreak, a woman in her 60s who was linked to the outbreak at Capital Care Lynwood and a woman in her 80s linked to the Touchmark Wedgewood Assisted Living outbreak died. Those three cases all included known comorbidities.
Elsewhere in the zone, a woman in her 90s died. Her case also included comorbidities, Alberta Health said.
Two deaths were reported in the Calgary zone and both cases included comorbidities. A woman in her 90s and a man in his 80s died.
In the North zone, Alberta Health confirmed three deaths. A man in his 60s who was linked to the outbreak at William J. Cadzow – Lac La Biche Healthcare Centre outbreak and a man in his 80s who was linked to the outbreak at Bonnyville Extendicare died. Both cases included comorbidities.
Also in the zone, a man in his 40s with unknown comorbidities has died.
Two deaths were reported in the South zone. A man and a woman in their 70s, both with unknown comorbidities, died.
In the Central zone, Alberta Health also announced a man in his 80s with unknown comorbidities died.
Alberta’s COVID-19 death toll now sits at 1,599 people.