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Why parts of Alberta are seeing extremely low COVID-19 vaccination rates

Click to play video: 'Why parts of Alberta are seeing extremely low COVID-19 vaccination rates' Why parts of Alberta are seeing extremely low COVID-19 vaccination rates
Both the province and doctors agree, the way out of this pandemic is vaccinations. While the majority of Albertans are vaccinated for COVID-19, it's a slim majority, and experts say that's the problem. Breanna Karstens-Smith looks at where shots have stalled. – Sep 15, 2021

The Alberta government and doctors agree: the way out of the COVID-19 pandemic is vaccinations.

While the majority of Albertans are vaccinated, it is a slim majority, and experts say that is why Alberta is experiencing a fourth wave.

In June, Premier Jason Kenney announced Alberta would “open for good” if 70 per cent of eligible Albertans received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The province hit that mark on Canada Day, but several regions of Alberta are still well below that mark even months later.

Click to play video: 'Hinshaw says Alberta’s ‘Open For Summer’ plan was premature, led to spike in COVID-19 cases' Hinshaw says Alberta’s ‘Open For Summer’ plan was premature, led to spike in COVID-19 cases
Hinshaw says Alberta’s ‘Open For Summer’ plan was premature, led to spike in COVID-19 cases – Sep 14, 2021

Just 23.8 per cent of eligible people in High Level have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to Alberta Health. Those between 12 and 19 represented the lowest eligible group vaccinated, with 13.2 per cent having received at least one dose.

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The Municipal District of Taber and County of Forty Mile have similar rates.

In the County of Two Hills, 42.9 per cent of eligible people in the region have received at least one dose of the shot; 39.1 per cent are fully vaccinated.

The county reeve said about 37 per cent of the area belongs to a religion that doesn’t believe in vaccines, adding that Alberta Health did try to increase uptake.

“We had them come out to talk to the religious leaders to hopefully try to educate them about what was going on and the potential dangers,” said Reeve Don Gulayec.

Gulayec said there are other people in the area who do not want to be told what to do with their bodies.

Read more: 12 Edmonton-area mayors call for COVID-19 vaccine passport, other measures in open letter

“The people that do not wish to be vaccinated, hopefully, they don’t become ill, but that would be the only way to process the dos and don’ts and the emergency situation behind it,” Gulayec told Global News.

Dr. Darren Markland knows it’s often too late if people wait until they’re sick before being vaccinated.

On Tuesday, he tweeted about a patient he consulted on.

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“Between the school closures and night shifts, she hadn’t found the time to get one shot, let alone two,” he wrote.

When announcing the reopening plan in June, Kenney predicted 75 per cent of all Albertans would be fully vaccinated by mid-October. Right now, that number sits at 60.6 per cent.

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