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Edmonton Expo Centre will open as COVID-19 vaccination site April 12

Inside the rapid flow-thru COVID-19 vaccination site at the Edmonton Expo Centre. Courtesy, Lana Palmer Photography and Contemporary Office Interiors

On April 12, a large-scale “rapid flow” COVID-19 vaccination site will open at the Edmonton Expo Centre.

The province confirmed its partnership with Alberta Health Services, the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Expo Centre on Wednesday.

Read more: COVID-19 vaccination sites opening in Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie

“This is another step forward to delivering the vaccine as quickly and safely as possible,” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said in a news release.

“This will help more Edmonton-area residents get protected from COVID-19 and help us achieve our goal of offering every adult Albertan the vaccine by June 30.”

The Expo Centre will join other Alberta sites transitioning to “rapid flow” vaccination clinics, including:

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  • Grande Prairie, Sargent Hall (April 9)
  • Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Macdonald Island Park Curling Rink (April 9)
  • Red Deer, Westerner Park (April 9)
  • Lethbridge, Lethbridge Exhibition (April 9)
  • Medicine Hat, Higdon Hall (April 9)
  • Calgary, Telus Convention Centre (next week)

“Expo Centre has symbolized the ongoing and collaborative working relationship between the City of Edmonton and Alberta Health Services over the past year,” Edmonton mayor Don Iveson said in a news release.

“Just as the facility provided space hosting our city’s most vulnerable at the pandemic’s start, the Expo Centre will offer many Edmontonians their way out of COVID as a large-scale vaccination venue.”

A rapid flow-thru COVID-19 vaccination site opens at the Edmonton Expo Centre Monday, April 12, 2021. Dave Carels, Global News

The addition of the Expo Centre will bring the total number of AHS immunization sites in the Edmonton zone to eight, the province said.

Once operational, it will be able to have 154 vaccination stations, with the capacity to complete more than 7,100 immunizations per day.

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“The Expo Centre location would operate between eight and 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for those eligible and with pre-booked vaccination appointments,” the province said.

“Hours of operation will be based on vaccine supply.”

To check your eligibility and to book a vaccination appointment, visit Alberta’s COVID-19 website or call Health Link at 811. Vaccine appointments can also be booked at participating pharmacies provincewide.

Read more: Large-scale COVID-19 vaccination site to open at Calgary TELUS Convention Centre

Earlier Wednesday, City of Edmonton officials said the Expo Centre was ready to serve as a mass COVID-19 vaccination site but they were waiting for a formal decision from the province.

City manager Andre Corbould said the central Edmonton facility would be able to accommodate thousands of people per day as a rapid flow-thru vaccination centre.

“We have already provided planning and facilitation services and understand that AHS will be making an announcement shortly about its intentions for the use of this space,” Corbould told councillors during the city’s emergency advisory committee meeting Wednesday morning.

“We are ready, willing and able to accommodate and support rapid flow-thru vaccination.”

Corbould said if the centre is activated as a vaccination site, the city’s portion of the cost would be about $1.3 million.

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“We have no cost if it doesn’t get activated,” he said.

“If it does, we are prepared to pay this cost. It’s the outside stuff… it’s the staff to help with parking and pointing people in the right direction, help with comfort if there are long lineups and those kinds of things. It’s the staffing costs for the Expo Centre to support this activity.”

On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney said the province is in the process of setting up several rapid flow-through vaccination clinics this week in Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.

“Government and Alberta Health Services are working with those municipalities to secure large facilities that can safely accommodate large volumes of people to be immunized in a short period of time,” Kenney explained.

Read more: COVID-19: All Albertans eligible in Phase 2B of vaccine rollout can book appointments Wednesday

These sites are meant to help keep up with vaccine demand as supply ramps up. Kenney said Tuesday that the province had received nearly 400,000 vaccine doses in the last week.

As of April 6, Alberta had administered 755,831 doses of vaccine and 133,401 Albertans had been fully vaccinated with two doses.

Additional restrictions announced Tuesday by the premier amid another surge in COVID-19 cases, mean the city will have to adjust some of its services.

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Click to play video: 'Alberta returns to Step 1 of the reopening as COVID-19 cases surge' Alberta returns to Step 1 of the reopening as COVID-19 cases surge
Alberta returns to Step 1 of the reopening as COVID-19 cases surge – Apr 6, 2021

Public libraries have been closed, as well as city rec centres. City arenas, St. Francis Xavier Sports Centre and Kinsmen Sport Centre remain open only for the group rentals including schools, youth and performance rentals as allowed under the province’s Step 1.

The city said it’s not known when it will be able to reopen rec centres.

Virtual programs are also available. More information on city recreation offerings can be found on the city’s website.

Read more: Alberta shuts down indoor dining, group fitness amid surging 3rd wave COVID-19, variant cases

As of April 6, Edmonton had 2,640 active cases of COVID-19.

Dr. Chris Sikora, medical officer of health with AHS in the Edmonton Zone, took part in Tuesday’s emergency advisory committee meeting.

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He said about 100 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the Edmonton area, with about 20 people in intensive care. He said with hospitalizations being a lagging indicator, he anticipates those numbers to rise in the coming days and weeks as COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in Alberta.

Read more: COVID-19 variants reducing hospital capacity, increasing ER wait times: Alberta doctor

Mayor Don Iveson stressed it has never been more crucial to follow the public health measures in place.

“If you’ve paid attention to news around the variants, regardless of where each one originated from, they are more contagious, they are more intense and they will slip more easily through any gaps in our defences,” Iveson said.

“We must give the virus no quarter, as tired and as frustrated as we may be.”

Variant cases of COVID-19 currently make up about 43.2 per cent of all active cases in the province.

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