Alberta is once again expanding its COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan, with the start of Phase 2B on Tuesday, March 30. In addition, the province has laid out its plan to ensure housebound Albertans have access to vaccine.
Phase 2B includes more than 945,000 Albertans with underlying health conditions, including cancer patients, transplant recipients, people living with disabilities, dementia and other conditions that put them at a higher risk of severe outcomes of COVID-19. (See full list below).
Beginning on Tuesday, March 30, Albertans born in 1963 or earlier with eligible underlying medical conditions will be able to book a vaccine appointment through participating pharmacies that have supply in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer.
Appointments for this group can be booked directly through participating pharmacies.
Alberta Health said in the coming week, more vaccine supply will become available and more pharmacies will begin to offer appointments.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health asked people for patience as the province moves into the next phase of vaccination.
“With nearly one million Albertans in Phase 2B, this is the largest single group we have made eligible for vaccination,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.
“With limited supply, we will have to move slowly and take small steps until more doses arrive.”
Alberta Health Services originally said that on April 5 it will start taking bookings for eligible Albertans in Phase 2B who were born in or before 1959. However, AHS later said the age group for those eligible to book starting April 5 was those born in 1963 or earlier.
These appointments can be booked through 811 or through the AHS online booking portal.
Additional birth years will be added as more vaccines arrive in the province, Alberta Health said in a media release.
“This is great news for vulnerable Albertans and another big step forward in our vaccine rollout,” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said in a media release.
“Anyone with these serious health conditions will now be eligible for vaccines that give effective protection from COVID-19. We’re ramping up our vaccinations as fast as the incoming vaccine supply allows. Every adult in Alberta will be offered a first dose by the end of June.”
Alberta Health said by April 23, all Albertans born in 2005 or earlier with eligible underlying health conditions will be able to book a vaccine appointment through a pharmacy or AHS.
Eligible health conditions in Phase 2B
Phase 2B applies to all Albertans born in 2005 or earlier with any of the following conditions:
- A missing spleen or a spleen that is no longer working
- Chronic heart disease and vascular disease
- Chronic kidney diseases requiring regular medical monitoring or treatment
- Chronic liver disease due to any cause
- Chronic neurological disease
- Chronic respiratory (lung) diseases
- Diabetes requiring insulin or other anti-diabetic medication to control
- A weakened immune response due to disease or treatment
- Anyone who is currently pregnant
- Severe mental illness or substance use disorder requiring a hospital stay during the past year
- Severe obesity
- Severe or profound learning disabilities or severe developmental delay
- Solid organ, bone marrow or stem cell transplant recipients
For more specific details on the eligible conditions, visit the Alberta Health website.
Alberta Health said people in Phase 2B will not be required to provide proof of their condition, however, they may want to speak with their doctor or pharmacist to determine if their condition is on the list.
“I know many, many Albertans will benefit from vaccination, including those with other medical conditions, but I urge people to wait their turn and ensure those at the highest risk receive protection first,” Hinshaw stressed.
Ensuring vaccine access for housebound Albertans
Starting Monday, AHS will offer COVID-19 vaccines to about 3,000 housebound Albertans who are eligible in phases 1 and 2A.
Alberta Health said the program, which aims to ensure those physically unable to leave their homes get vaccinated as quickly as possible, will expand to people in Phase 2B in the coming days.
Alberta Health said the COVID-19 vaccine will be administered by AHS public health or home care, similar to how the annual influenza vaccine is provided to homebound Albertans.
AHS said its teams are reaching out to eligible home care clients directly and that people do not need to make appointments.
Anyone who was eligible for vaccine in phases 1 and 2A who have not yet booked an appointment can still do so.
As of Monday afternoon, more than 608,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in Alberta.
Until more people are able to be vaccinated, Hinshaw once again stressed the importance of following the public health measures that are in place.
“Twice we have bent the curve before by limiting in-person interactions and by protecting each other in our communities. And we can do it again.”
This week, Canada is expected to receive its largest shipment of COVID-19 vaccine to date, with around 3.3 million shots due for delivery from different pharmaceutical companies over the coming days.
Also Monday, Alberta announced it is pausing the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to those 55 and under.
The move comes as Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is now recommending AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine not be administered to people under the age of 55.