Alberta is ramping up its COVID-19 vaccine schedule.
Premier Jason Kenney said effective Thursday, anyone who had their first dose of COVID-19 in April, is now eligible for a second dose. That group originally had to wait until next week.
“Every day we can get further ahead of schedule is another day closer to the end of the pandemic,” Kenney said.
Albertans vaccinated in May are still scheduled to begin booking their second dose starting June 28.
Kenney also spoke on the potential for a lottery based on COVID-19 vaccinations and has directed Alberta Health to look into options about how that might work.
Manitoba launched a nearly $2 million lottery in cash and scholarships for those who roll up their sleeve and get a shot.
“We haven’t made a final decision but we’re giving it a serious look,” Kenney said.
The premier also added that he expects the province to hit the 70 per cent threshold for a full easing of COVID-19 health restrictions around June 19-20, which would mean a full opening around July 3-4.
“I would love it if we could shake the trees and get an extra 40,000 people to show up this week, then we could have an open Canada Day,” Kenney said.
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro added that those who got AstraZeneca as their first shot, wait at least eight weeks before they get their second dose. Those individuals can choose a second dose of the same vaccine or Pfizer or Moderna.
So far, Alberta has administered more than 3.2 million doses of the vaccine, with 67.8 per cent of Albertans 12 and over receiving at least one dose and 16.7 per cent fully vaccinated.
The ramped-up vaccine schedule announced Thursday comes as the province reported 3,800 active cases, a 40 per cent decrease since June 1. Alberta identified 178 new cases of COVID-19, on 5,500 tests for a positivity rate of 3.3 per cent. They also identified 138 additional cases of variants of concern over the past 24 hours.
There are 306 people in hospital across the province, 81 in ICU, a 31 per cent drop since June 2.
“This encouraging trend is important to maintain,” said chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
“Which is why as we move into Stage 2, it remains critical for all of us to follow all of the public health measures that are in place.”
The province reported six new COVID-19 deaths over the past 24 hours, bringing Alberta’s death toll to 2,262.
Red Deer is down to 150 active cases of COVID-19, down 21 from Wednesday’s 166. The city has 5,706 total cases, with 5,516 recovered and 40 deaths due to the virus.
The Central zone has 496 active cases of the virus, with 33 people in hospital and seven in the ICU.
When looking at the province’s geospatial mapping for COVID-19 cases on the municipality setting, regions are defined by metropolitan areas, cities, urban service areas, rural areas and towns with approximately 10,000 or more people; smaller regions are incorporated into the corresponding rural area.
With that setting, Red Deer County has 30 active cases of the virus, Lacombe County has 17 active and Clearwater County sits at 48 active.
Lacombe has 14 active and Sylvan Lake has 10, while Olds sits at seven active. Mountain View County sits at eight active, Kneehill County has four active and Drumheller has no active cases. Camrose County sits at three active cases and the County of Stettler has five.
Camrose is at three active cases and Wetaskiwin has 21 active.
On the local geographic area setting, Wetaskiwin County, including Maskwacis has 74 active. Ponoka, including East Ponoka County, has 15 active cases. Rimbey, including parts of Lacombe County has 15 active.