Alberta’s daily COVID-19 vaccine numbers nearly tripled Thursday, one day after the province announced a vaccine passport-type program.
The province administered 28,158 doses of COVID vaccine on Thursday. To compare, 9,750 doses were administered on Wednesday.
“Albertans are doing their part to get vaccinated to protect themselves and each other,” Alberta Health said on Twitter on Friday.
Eighty per cent of eligible Albertans over the age of 12 now have at least one dose, the province said in a news release on Friday.
Of that same age group, just under 72 per cent are now fully vaccinated.
“Thank you to not only every Albertan who has stepped up and got vaccinated but who have booked doses,” Premier Jason Kenney said. “We’ve seen a rush in bookings in recent days, and every dose will help bend down the curve and protect our health-care system.”
To date, Alberta has administered 5,754,307 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
“Millions of vaccines have been administered here and around the world,” chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said. “The evidence is clear: Vaccines are very safe and they work.
“If you haven’t got your shot yet, it is critical that you do so now to help protect yourself and our health-care system.”
Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced a number of new restrictions on Wednesday in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta.
The two also announced a restrictions exemption program where businesses could not adhere to any restrictions if they asked all patrons for proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken in the previous 72 hours.
PCR tests from Alberta Health or Alberta Precision Laboratories will not be accepted, the tests must be paid for by the patron.
As of Sept. 15, 79.6 per cent of eligible Albertans over the age of 12 had received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Just over 71 per cent of the same population was fully vaccinated.
Vaccination appointments can be made online or by calling 811.
Vaccine bus heads to rural Alberta
The province’s mobile vaccine clinic rolled into the Town of Edson on Friday.
Vaccination rates in Edson are much lower than the provincial average. Just 55.4 per cent of eligible people have received their first dose and 48.9 are fully immunized.
“We have our highest case counts ever,” said Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara. “We just peaked at 186 the other day. We have been seeing a little bit of a drop yesterday so hopefully that trend continues.”
The mayor says the town’s health system has been struggling. He hopes the new restrictions, the proof-of-vaccination program and the accessibility of the mobile clinic will motivate more people to get the shot.
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“In talking to people in the community, absolutely it’s going to have an impact because people want to travel, people want to attend restaurants and do those sorts of things and so this is kind of the final push,” Zahara said.
“I think people are open to it for the most part and we’re just trying to reach those folks right now.”
“We don’t want to see that further spread in the community, so I really think it is a motivating force for some people to get vaccinated now,” he added. “As time goes on, people are getting a little comfortable, seeing that Health Canada has now approved Moderna as well as Pfizer I think is really important.”
“I wasn’t even going to get one,” Edson resident Wayne Gauchier said. “But they put new restrictions for football games, hockey games, stuff like that.”
As part of Alberta Health Services’ efforts to get more rural Albertans vaccinated, clinics have been set up at 24 rural schools and there’s been an emphasis on getting seniors in those communities booster shots.
“We can’t always make the assumption that it’s because of the die-hard anti-vaxxer beliefs,” AHS CEO Dr. Verna Yiu said Thursday about vaccine hesitancy. “We really need to make sure people are educated, that they are informed and also to make sure there are no barriers to accessing vaccinations.”
Daily COVID-19 numbers
On Friday, the province confirmed an additional 2,020 cases of COVID-19 over the previous 24 hours.
There were 911 people in hospital – up from 896 the day before – with 215 of those people receiving care for COVID in the ICU.
The ICU number dropped from 222 people the day before.
An additional 18 deaths were reported to Alberta Health since Thursday.
Two of the deaths were in the Edmonton zone where a man and a woman in their 60s, both with pre-existing conditions, died.
Three deaths were in the Calgary zone: a man in his 60s, a woman in her 70s and a woman in her 90s. All three had pre-existing conditions.
Five of the deaths were reported from the North zone: a man in his 60s, a man in his 80s, a woman in her 70s and a woman in her 90s. All had pre-existing conditions. Another man in his 60s died. He had no known pre-existing conditions.
Six deaths occurred in the Central zone: a woman in her 40s, a man in his 50s, and two women and a man in their 70s. All had pre-existing conditions. A woman in her 70s with no known pre-existing conditions has also died.
The other two deaths were reported in the South zone where two men in their 80s with pre-existing conditions died.
Alberta has had 2,523 deaths from COVID-19.
There are now 19,201 active cases across the province. As of Friday’s update there were 5,468 active cases in the Calgary zone, there were 5,467 active cases in the Edmonton zone, the Central zone had 3,080 active cases, there were 1,919 in the South zone and the North zone had 3,237 active cases.
There were 30 active cases not affiliated with a specific zone.
To date, 277,558 Albertans have contracted COVID-19 and 255,834 have recovered.
Changes to AHS visitation policy
AHS also announced Friday it is adjusting designated support and visitation access at all acute, ambulatory and emergency/urgent care sites starting Sept. 20 “to manage the escalating impact of COVID-19.”
As of Sept. 20:
- Two designated support people can be identified for inpatient services, but only one can be on site at a time with the patient.
- Two designated support people can be identified and be on-site with a maternity patient if physical distancing can be maintained.
- One designated support person if required to support the care of the emergency and urgent care patient while physically distanced from others not in their household.
- Two designated support people can be identified and on-site with an end-of-life
- Two designated support people can be identified and present at the same time for pediatric inpatient and ambulatory care.
- Sibling visitation for pediatric inpatients is temporarily restricted to monthly visits for long patient stays “due to the increased prevalence and spread of COVID-19 variants.”
— with files from Chris Chacon, Global News