A surge of bookings over the past two days has reduced Alberta’s vaccine supply. But there’s still a long way to go, says Prime Minister Jason Kenney
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Millennial Calgarians signed up en masse for COVID-19 vaccines on Thursday, prompting the province to redirect resources to the city.
The news comes as Alberta announces a record day of vaccinations against the novel coronavirus.
Premier Jason Kenney said on Friday morning that other vaccination clinics aimed at large workplaces or specific cultural groups would also be coming to Calgary.
“We’ve seen relatively more bookings in Calgary than in other health zones, so Alberta Health Services will readjust their allocation to match demand where it is,” Kenney said. “We don’t want to refuse anyone, of course.
“There will be a wider range of opportunities unique to the community to get immunized.”
Vaccine registrations for Albertans born in 1991 and earlier began Thursday morning, the first step in expanding vaccinations to the general public in Phase 3.
More than 154,000 appointments had been booked by AHS as of noon Friday, the health authority said, representing about 3.5% of the province’s population. This number does not include reservations made at pharmacies.
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Demand means there are currently more appointments booked than there are doses available in Alberta, Kenney said, but an influx of vials to Alberta is expected soon.
“What we’re counting on is additional supply,” Kenney said.
“This week we received, we estimate, 350,000 doses. Next week, the week of May 10, we will receive 271,000 doses and the following week 357,000 doses. “
Alberta broke its record for daily COVID-19 vaccine doses given on Thursday, reporting 59,730 additional injections given. The newly eligible group of Albertans aged 30 to 39 accounted for about a quarter of those shots.
The flagship day of the province’s immunization campaign took it to another milestone, with one-third of all Albertans having now received at least one dose of the vaccine.
A total of 1.48 million Albertans have had at least one injection, representing 41.2% of people aged 16 and over.
Also on Friday, Kenney announced a new partnership with the state of Montana that will see up to 2,000 Alberta truckers receive the blow while they are on the job in the United States.
The deal aims to help keep supply chains across the US border, Kenney said, and will allow truckers to get vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine at a stopover in Conrad , about 80 kilometers south of the Coutts border post.
About 800 trucks pass from Alberta to Montana every day, the premier said. The agreement is similar to those reached between North Dakota and the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
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Although the daily number of COVID-19 cases in Alberta fell below 2,000 in figures released Friday, high transmission rates continued, with 1,980 additional infections reported.
The new cases come from nearly 19,000 tests, which represents a positivity rate of 10.5%.
Hospitalization and ICU admission levels for patients with COVID-19 have increased slightly. There are now 659 people in Alberta hospitals with COVID-19, including 150 in intensive care units, up from 654 and 146 respectively.
The Calgary and Edmonton regions each have hospital use figures similar to COVID-19, with each region reporting about 235 hospitalizations and 60 intensive care admissions.
The number of active cases also continued to increase, reaching a new high of 24,850. In Alberta’s second wave, the number of active cases never exceeded 21,000.
Four other deaths have also been reported, including two Calgary-area residents in their 60s. Alberta’s toll for COVID-19 is 2106.
AHS has taken legal action against the organizers of large rallies and rallies held in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions.
Health officials said Thursday evening they have sought and received a preventive Court of Queen’s Bench injunction against the Whistle Stop Café near Mirror and its owner Chris Scott. A rally that had been scheduled at the restaurant for the weekend was called an illegal event, with police authorized to arrest and detain the organizers.
The day before, AHS had changed the restaurant’s locks after ignoring repeated orders to cease catering.
In a Facebook livestream on Friday, Scott acknowledged the injunction and called on people not to illegally gather at the restaurant.