Alberta is less than one per cent away from the first-dose vaccination benchmark for transitioning to Phase 3 of the summer reopen plan, and officials expect the rollout of second doses will be sped up this week.
Dr. André Corriveau said Tuesday that officials are looking at ways to accelerate access to the second doses for Albertans as more doses are being shipped to the province this week.
“We received information that we will get an increased allocation of Moderna vaccine in the next couple of weeks,” he said.
“So we’re doing the math right now to be able to speed up the access to a second dose as much as we possibly can and we hope to be able to make an announcement later this week about when this will occur.”
Corriveau, who was filling in for chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw while she is on vacation this week, said there is “a lot of pent up demand” for the second and final shot of vaccine.
“Once you’ve received the first dose, it will be important then to start thinking about the second one, because the second one is what will give us a sustainable recovery from this pandemic experience,” he said.
More than 22 per cent of Albertans aged 12 and over have been fully immunized with two doses of vaccine.
As of Tuesday, 69.4 per cent of eligible Albertans had received their first shot.
Corriveau encouraged anyone who is still hesitant to get their first dose to “arm yourself with accurate information.”
“Vaccines are safe, effective and they do save lives. In Canada, we benefit from a thorough scientific review process for safety, efficacy and quality,” he said.
“Within Canada and Alberta, we also have a robust surveillance system that monitors adverse events.”
In Alberta to date, there have been 559 adverse effects following a COVID-19 vaccine, which accounts for about 0.015 per cent of the more than 3.4 million shots that have been administered.
Corriveau said officials hope the newly-launched COVID-19 vaccine lottery will incentivize anyone waiting to get their shot to make their appointment.
Corriveau advises taking Delta cases ‘in context’ as cases decline
A total of 127 new COVID-19 infections were reported on Tuesday, bringing the total number of active cases to 2,804, which Corriveau said is the “lowest that it’s been since Oct. 15 of last year.”
With labs completing a total of 4,476 COVID-19 tests, Alberta’s positivity rate was 2.9 per cent.
Labs also identified 85 cases of variants of concern.
While Corriveau said Alberta Health hasn’t done the modelling on when the newest variant — the Delta variant first identified in India — might become the dominant, it’s important those cases are taken in context as overall case numbers continue to drop.
He said it’s likely Delta will become the dominant strain in the province because it is more transmissible, and a single dose of vaccine offers far less protection, he said “if the overall daily numbers are really low, it’s not that big of an issue.”
“If it becomes dominant, if we’re only seeing 10, 25 cases a day, that’s quite different than when we were seeing 2,500 cases a day. We have to take that in context as well,” Corriveau said.
Corriveau also said officials are watching newly emerging evidence about airborne transmission of COVID-19, adding there has been “some evidence” the virus can spread through the air, but there’s not a lot of evidence to suggest that’s a major driver of spread.
He added the province’s larger outbreaks have been driven by people gathering together in close settings.
“It’s not that we’re ruling out the possibility, it’s just that it still doesn’t seem to be a major form of transmission,” he said. “And it’s something that we continue to watch.”
A total of 271 people were in hospital with COVID-19 as of Tuesday, with 68 in ICU.
Four deaths were reported to Alberta Health in the last 24 hours, bringing the province’s death toll from the disease to 2,274. All four of the deaths included comorbidities, according to Alberta Health.
A woman in her 50s in the North zone, a man in his 50s in the North zone, a man in his 80s in the Edmonton zone and a woman in her 80s in the Calgary zone died.