Alberta’s full procurement of pediatric COVID-19 vaccine has arrived, Health Minister Jason Copping tweeted Thursday morning.
Supply started arriving Tuesday morning and the first doses will be administered Friday morning.
As of 9 a.m. Thursday, just over 55,000 appointments had been booked.
“That’s great,” Sarah Mackey with Vax Hunters Alberta said. “That’s a lot of kids who are going to be getting that first dose before the holidays hit.”
Mackey and her team were up bright and early Wednesday to help parents find vaccine appointments and said the day got off to a “bit of a bumpy” start.
There were a few pharmacies on the list of places to book that they knew would not be offering the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine and parents were booking with those pharmacies.
Other than that, Mackey said the day went much more smoothly than when vaccines were opened to everyone 12 and older in the spring.
The Calgary zone led the province with the most appointments booked with 26,710. The Edmonton zone had 21,206 appointments booked, there were 2,668 booked in the North zone, 2,468 booked in the South zone and the Central zone had the fewest appointments booked with 1,980.
According to the 2020 census data, that means about 18 per cent of eligible kids in the Calgary zone have appointments booked, about 17 per cent in the Edmonton zone, the South zone is about 8.5 per cent and the North and Central zones are between five and six per cent, according to Mackey
“That’s not surprising,” she said. We knew it was going to look like that where it was going to be concentrated in the cities for sure. Hopefully we’ll see that number steadily increase.”
In Alberta, pediatric COVID-19 vaccine doses are being administered at Alberta Health Services clinics. Community pharmacies will only be used if there isn’t a clinic in the area.
Mackey hopes the province will move to community pop-ups, targeting outreach in areas with slower uptake, like it did in the spring.
“There aren’t as many locations right now and that’s great for reducing wastage, but it’s also making it harder for people to access,” she said.
Mackey also encourages parents and guardians to share with other people their kids are booked for their vaccines and to talk about how excited the families are.
“I think, for a lot of people, they either don’t know or they think ‘Well, we’ll just see how it goes.’
“So the more people we can see out there in our own communities and our own connections that are getting their kids vaccinated, the more that’ll normalize that it’s happening.”
Children became able to receive the pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine after Health Canada gave its approval on Nov. 19.
The vaccine will require two doses of 10 micrograms each for kids aged five to 11 — one-third of the dose for adults. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is recommending the two doses be spaced eight weeks apart.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is recommending parents wait two weeks between other vaccines — such as the influenza vaccine — and the COVID-19 vaccine.
“This is a precaution,” she said Tuesday. “While we’ve seen with older age groups taking other vaccines with the COVID vaccine, this has been safe and effective, however this spacing for 5-11 year olds is recommended to allow us to watch more closely for any potential adverse effects.”
In a statement provided to Global News, an Alberta Health spokesperson reiterated the advice is a recommendation, not a requirement.
“Routine school immunizations can be administered regardless of spacing from COVID-19 vaccine due to the fact that both school immunizations and COVID immunizations are important and the 14-day spacing could be a barrier preventing a children from getting vaccines,” Michael Francouer said.
“If an individual presents at a clinic or another immunizer, individuals should not be turned away from receiving more than one vaccine on the same day or if they are within the 14-day period between the COVID-19 vaccine and another vaccine.”
Parents and guardians can make appointments for their child’s COVID-19 vaccine online or by calling 811.
Thursday’s COVID-19 numbers
On Thursday afternoon, Alberta Health reported an additional 379 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed over the previous 24 hours, bringing the active case total to 4,969.
The province performed 9,604 tests. Thursday’s positivity rate had not been posted online as of publishing.
The Calgary zone continues to have the highest number of active cases at 1,880. There were 1,119 in the Edmonton zone, 837 in the North zone, 712 in the Central zone and 413 in the South zone.
There were eight active cases not assigned to a specific zone.
As of Thursday, there were 465 Albertans in hospital with COVID-19, 98 of whom were being treated in ICUs.
One additional death was reported to the province over the previous 24 hours. There have now been 3,232 COVID-19 deaths in Alberta since the pandemic began.
As of Thursday’s update, 88.5 per cent of eligible Albertans 12 and up had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Of the same group, 83.5 per cent were fully vaccinated.
Since the pandemic began, 333,847 Albertans have contracted COVID-19 while 325,646 have recovered.