Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced on Wednesday that the province’s vaccine rollout will expand to include anyone over the age of 12 years old by May 10.
“Today, I am pleased to announce that by this coming Monday, every single Albertan over the age of 12 will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” Kenney said.
The news comes amid word from Health Canada that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for Canadians 12 and over.
“This is a major milestone in our vaccine rollout and it comes right when we need it most,” Kenney said.
“While we know that every single person can benefit from this vaccine, our priority has always been protecting those at highest risk first. Now that those at the highest risk of experiencing severe outcomes from the virus have had the opportunity to receive their first dose, we can offer the vaccine to all Albertans.”
The move opens up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to over 3 million Albertans.
To avoid overwhelming booking systems, appointments will be staggered into two age groups:
- Starting on May 6, every Albertan age 30 or older (born in 1991 or earlier) can book an appointment through Alberta Health Services or a participating pharmacy.
- Then, on May 10, appointment bookings will expand to include Albertans ages 12 to 29 (born between 2009 to 1992). This includes those who are 11 but turning 12 in 2021.
“Outside of the Northern Territories, Alberta is the first province to offer the vaccine to everybody 12 years of age and older no matter where they live or what medical conditions they might have,” Kenney said.
“If we receive the supply we were promised we expect to complete this entire phase (Phase 3) by the end of June – and hopefully sooner than that.”
“We wanted to give teachers and education workers a chance to get their bookings in before opening it up to the general population,” Kenney said.
“We want to make sure that we don’t end up sitting on vaccine doses in the freezer so we have to calibrate the timing of opening Phase 3 to a point that we see that Phase 2 has largely been inoculated and we’re starting to ramp up inventories.”
Speaking at Wednesday’s news conference, Minister of Health Tyler Shandro said the province is “ahead of schedule” and delivering on its promise to provide at least one dose to every Albertan who wants it by June 30.
“Now that we have gotten to this point, every Albertan can help drive cases down by getting vaccinated,” Shandro said.
When asked how the province makes decisions on when to open up bookings to more age groups, Shandro explained that when Albertans book their vaccine appointments it’s for a dosage that isn’t even in the province yet.
“What we do is we take the allocation table that we get from the national operations centre from the federal government – it has a forecast of what our allotment as Alberta is going to be well past 28 days — but we look at the next 28 days, and we start allowing people to make those bookings based on the vaccines we are told by the federal government we are going to be getting.”
The province’s chief medical officer of health urged every Albertan who is eligible to book their appointment to do so.
“It may take time at first,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw warned. “But please be patient and book your appointment in the coming weeks.”
“This is the most important thing you can do to protect yourselves, your loved ones and your communities.”