Alberta and Montana are joining together to help truckers get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Premier Jason Kenney announced details of the vaccine partnership at a morning news conference on Friday. saying commercial truck drivers who are required to transport goods into the United States will be able to receive an inoculation.
“We signed an agreement with the government of Montana to vaccinate truck drivers who are required to cross the Alberta-Montana border as part of their job,” Kenney said.
Starting May 10, Montana will be providing vaccines to truckers entering the state at a rest stop near the city of Conrad at no cost. The service will be available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily until May 23.
The vaccine provided will be Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, which only requires one dose.
Truck drivers will not be required to book ahead to receive the vaccinations.
“Truck drivers have worked hard throughout the pandemic to keep the supply chain open and deliver the essential goods that Albertans need,” Kenney said. “That’s why Alberta is taking further measures to protect the health and safety of these workers.”
Kenney said about 2,000 Alberta truck drivers are eligible to be vaccinated under the program.
“By vaccinating truck drivers who travel across the Alberta-Montana border, we’re protecting them from COVID-19 infection and we’re ensuring the supply chain remains open.”
Truck drivers will be vaccinated with surplus vaccine supplies provided by Montana.
“There will be no cost to Albertans for this vaccine program as the United States government will be covering the cost of providing and administering the vaccine for the States,” Kenney added.
Kenney said about 800 commercial carriers cross the Alberta-Montana border at the Coutts border crossing every day.
“We’re confident that many truckers will pull over, roll up their sleeves and get their jab as they travel back and forth between our province and Montana.”
Alberta Motor Transport Association president Chris Nash said the agreement is proof that collaboration can help communities and economies to overcome COVID-19.
“Agreements like this help keep essential workers safe,” Nash said. “This is how we build and maintain a resilient supply chain.”
“By working together and taking this critical action, we keep our trade channels open between Montana and Alberta,” said Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte in a statement.
Kenney said he has been “in discussions” with other U.S. states who have “extra doses” and would be “happy to share” but the American federal government has export constraints that stop them from sending doses outside of their country.
“If Albertans are down south for whatever reason and they want to get a jab, I think they can pretty easily do so in most of the United States,” Kenney said.
“I know a lot of snowbirds and others who have done just that — people down there on essential work — and frankly, we encourage them to. Just getting vaccinated as quick as they can helps them, helps us. It’s good for everyone.”
The announcement comes just days after Kenney shared that Alberta’s vaccine rollout would expand to include anyone over the age of 12 years old by May 10.
Albertans 30 or over (born in 1991 or earlier) were able to begin booking vaccination appointments on Thursday, and bookings will expand to include all Albertans ages 12 and up on Monday (including those who are 11 but turn 12 this year.)
Kenney said as of Thursday evening, 136,000 vaccine appointments had been scheduled through Alberta Health Services for the 30+ age group.
More information on Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccine program can be found online at Alberta.ca.