Albertans hoping to get an AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine a week after the province opened up eligibility to people born in 1981 or older might find it harder to track down.
All of the Alberta Health Services (AHS) appointments have been booked up, Alberta Health said Wednesday, and pharmacies around the province have received every dose the province was allocated by the federal government.
“There are no appointments for AstraZeneca available for online booking or by calling 811 at this time, province-wide at AHS sites,” a written statement from AHS said.
“If anyone cancels a booking, we do add it back into the system.
“The vast majority of doses have now been administered or booked but there are appointments available at some participating pharmacies.”
Some walk-in vaccinations are available at clinics in Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie, and AHS said anyone booked to receive a vaccine will get one.
“At end of day yesterday (April 27) AHS had administered approximately 69,500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through both booked appointments and via walk-in province-wide,” the statement concluded.
“Alberta received approximately 270,000 doses of AstraZeneca, and they have all been shipped to pharmacies and AHS,” Alberta Health spokesman Tom McMillan told Global News by email.
“Alberta has not received any more doses from the federal government, so there are no more available to be shipped.”
Health Minister Tyler Shandro said he hopes to continue to procure AstraZeneca doses via the federal government.
“For the rural pharmacies, of course we want to continue to make sure that they have a continuous supply as people are making their appointments — they’re making appointments for vaccines that haven’t yet arrived here in Alberta,” Shandro said.
The health minister said a “secure supply” of Pfizer doses is expected to ramp up from 119,000 to 236,000 per week in May, and hoped Moderna shipments will not see future delays.
Premier Jason Kenney pointed to runaway cases of COVID-19 in India as “one of the reasons” for Alberta’s supply shortage of AstraZeneca doses.
Kenney said there were some “large shipments” of other vaccines coming to Alberta in the coming weeks — 117,000 from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
“I actually think that in the month of May we may be able to inoculate with the first dose upwards of 700,000 people,” Kenney said, calling it a “game-changer.”
Wednesday, the premier announced expanded eligibility for AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson doses to Albertans 30+ in the Banff and R.M. of Wood Buffalo hotspots.
Premier Jason Kenney announced the lowering of the minimum age for the AstraZeneca vaccine in Alberta to 40 on April 18, shortly after other provinces made the same move on advice from federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu.
The day before, the province reported it had about 170,000 doses of the vaccine left to administer.
On Monday, the White House told the Associated Press that the United States will begin shipping up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries in the coming months, once it receives FDA approval.
The move expands a previous pledge to send 4 million doses to Canada and Mexico.
–with files from Caley Ramsay and Morgan Black, Global News, and the Associated Press