People are shown arriving at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, March 14, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

More provinces expanding vaccine rollouts as COVID-19 cases rise nationally

Provinces continued to expand their COVID-19 vaccine rollouts on Sunday, amid what Canada’s chief public health officer described as a recent increase in the number of new cases across the country.

Dr. Theresa Tam said health officials are observing a rise in new infections after several weeks of levelling off. The province reported a seven-day average of 3,052 new cases daily between March 5 and March 11.

In a statement, Tam expressed concern over an increase in cases linked to more contagious virus variants, as well as a higher infection rate in Canadians aged 20 to 39.

“Circulation of COVID-19 in younger, more mobile and socially connected adults can increase the risk of spread into high-risk populations and settings,” she wrote.

Despite the rise in cases, Tam said severe outcomes such as hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline.

Her statement adds urgency to the vaccine effort, which is ramping up in several provinces as more doses arrive.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the province’s COVID-19 vaccine booking system is ready to start taking appointments for those 80 and older as of Monday morning, following recent pilot projects allowing some pharmacies and family doctors to deliver the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to people ages 60 to 64.

Saskatchewan also expanded its rollout, announcing that anyone who is 70 or older can book an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday.

In Saskatchewan’s Northern Administrative District, the cutoff age is 50 and over.

Quebec, which is already vaccinating people ages 70 and up across the province or 65 and up in Montreal, will expand its booking system as of Monday to add some 350 pharmacies to the list of places where people can get shots.

Health Minister Christian Dube noted that the province administered more than 30,000 doses on Saturday, and said Quebec would continue to increase the pace of vaccines.

Unlike many other provinces, Quebec has authorized using the AstraZeneca vaccine for people over 65, despite the national immunization committee warning of a lack of data on efficacy in that age group.

Dube took to his Twitter account to reassure the population that the vaccine is safe, after several European countries temporarily suspended use of AstraZeneca over concerns surrounding blood clots.

“Vaccination is the solution, regardless of which one,” Dube said.

Both the World Health Organization and Health Canada’s chief medical adviser have said there is no scientific explanation to suggest a link between the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots.

Alberta, meanwhile, has been running out of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which it has been offering to younger people.

Albertans who were born between 1957 and 1961, and First Nations, Metis and Inuit people born between 1972 and 1976, are eligible for the AstraZeneca shots.

While Tam warned that the average number of new COVID-19 cases was rebounding slightly across the country, that wasn’t the case across the board.

There was good news in Atlantic Canada, where Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases of COVID-19, while New Brunswick added five cases to its tally and Nova Scotia reported just one.

Manitoba reported 44 new cases and one death, while Saskatchewan reported 98 new cases and two lost lives.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Rebels winger Arshdeep Bains had two assists in the first period Monday against the Lethbridge Hurricanes in WHL action in Lethbridge. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Hurricanes hand Red Deer Rebels ninth straight loss

Hurricanes 5 Rebels 2 (Saturday) Hurricanes 8 Rebels 5 (Monday) The goals… Continue reading

Red Deer City Hall. (File photo)
Red Deerians will see a slight tax increase, but the municipal portion is at zero per cent

The provincial educational requisition went up by about half a per cent

The length of grass on people’s lawns could be part of the new Community Standards bylaw being considered by Red Deer city council. (Black Press file photo).
Loitering, noise complaints, swearing covered in proposed bylaw

A few old rules could be dropped and new rules added

Sweden skip Niklas Edin makes a shot against Scotland in the Men's World Curling Championship gold medal final in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, April 11, 2021. Curling's Humpty's Champions Cup in Calgary has been pushed back a day due to the delayed finish of the men's world championship. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Start of Humpty’s Champions Cup pushed back a day in Calgary

Start of Humpty’s Champions Cup pushed back a day in Calgary

Men’s world curling championship in Calgary concludes amid COVID scare

Men’s world curling championship in Calgary concludes amid COVID scare

New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole throws against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, April 12, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Higashioka and Cole help Yankees beat Blue Jays 3-1

Higashioka and Cole help Yankees beat Blue Jays 3-1

Alberta doctors say trust must be rebuilt after proposed new labour deal rejected

Alberta doctors say trust must be rebuilt after proposed new labour deal rejected

People line up in the rain for a COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up clinic at the Masjid Darus Salaam in the Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood in Toronto on Sunday, April 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Provinces defend health restrictions as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise

Provinces defend health restrictions as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta legislature Speaker apologizes for condemning new COVID health restrictions

Alberta legislature Speaker apologizes for condemning new COVID health restrictions

Ukraine’s leader requests a talk with Putin, gets no answer

Ukraine’s leader requests a talk with Putin, gets no answer

Madelyn Boyko poses along with a number of the bath bombs she makes with her mom, Jessica Boyko. Madelyn says she enjoys making the bath bombs with her mom as it is a special time for just the two of them. (Photo Submitted)
5-year-old Sylvan Lake girl selling bath bombs in support of younger brother

Madelyn Boyko is selling bath bombs for CdLS research in honour of her younger brother

Most Read