A large-scale COVID-19 vaccination site is set to open in downtown Calgary early next month.
The vaccination site is scheduled to open on April 5 at the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre, with the capacity to vaccinate hundreds of people per day.
“This is very exciting news and helps support and advance the government of Alberta’s goal to have all Albertans who wish to be vaccinated get vaccinated,” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said in a media release Monday morning.
“We encourage all Albertans to get vaccinated as they become eligible and we are working closely with AHS and community partners to expand these opportunities.”
Alberta Health Services said the site will have about 100 vaccination stations, with the ability to expand to 120 stations if needed. AHS said 10 stations working at full capacity for eight hours would have the ability to vaccinate 500 people per day.
AHS said the convention centre immunization site will be open between eight and 16 hours per day, seven days a week. Pre-booked appointments will be needed to receive a vaccine. Hours of operation will depend on vaccine supply.
AHS has partnered with the City of Calgary and the convention centre to offer the mass vaccination site. Its central location, access to transit and parking availability make it an ideal site, AHS said. The City of Calgary added it will provide free parking to those who visit the site for vaccinations.
“Calgarians have been incredible in their actions to keep each other safe throughout this pandemic,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Monday.
“With vaccines now available for many, having a central location that could facilitate a huge vaccination effort was critical. That’s why the city is partnering to invest in the space required to solve the logistical element of this public health effort.”
“This is one of the most meaningful events we will ever host and we will work closely with our local and provincial partners for a seamless transition into a vaccination site,” said Kurby Court, president and CEO of the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre.
Bookings at the facility are expected to open later this month, AHS said. The addition of the convention centre will bring the total number of AHS vaccination sites in the Calgary zone to 25.
Currently, AHS has 117 immunization sites across Alberta.
In late February, Alberta’s health minister said the province is planning large, flow-through immunization clinics as the province continues its vaccine rollout plan. Shandro said the sites would open based on supply and demand for vaccines.
The City of Edmonton said in early March that the Edmonton Expo Centre is being considered as a possible rapid flow-through COVID-19 vaccination site, although there’s been no official word on the site being utilized.
“The ‘when’ of that will be up to the province as part of their rollout of the vaccination,” city manager Andre Corbould said on March 3. “This is contingency and preliminary planning at this point and the idea is that, when there’s a lot more vaccine to get out to Edmontonians, we would be prepared to help with these rapid flow-through sites.”
Monday’s announcement came as the province began Phase 2A of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Phase 2A targets Albertans born between 1947 and 1956 and First Nations, Inuit and Métis people born in 1971 or earlier.
Only Albertans born in 1947 or earlier — or First Nations, Métis and Inuit people born in 1962 or earlier — can begin booking their appointments through AHS on Monday. Participating pharmacies are taking appointments for all Phase 2A age groups starting Monday.
As of March 13, the province said 357,983 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in Alberta with 91,538 people fully vaccinated with two doses.