Red Deer anesthesiologist and intensive care unit physician Dr. Eduard Barnard was among health staff to get the first of two Pfizer COVID-19 on Wednesday. Photo from Alberta Health Services

Red Deer anesthesiologist and intensive care unit physician Dr. Eduard Barnard was among health staff to get the first of two Pfizer COVID-19 on Wednesday. Photo from Alberta Health Services

More than 300 central Alberta health workers vaccinated for COVID-19

Alberta Health Services says more vaccinations will happen in phases into next year

More than 300 health workers and doctors in central zone had their first COVID-19 shot by Christmas Eve.

The first Red Deer health staff started getting the first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Thursday, among them anesthesiologist and intensive care unit (ICU) physician Dr. Eduard Barnard.

“There have been a lot of challenges I never thought I would have experienced in my lifetime (due to COVID),” said Barnard, who works at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

“Back when I was studying medicine, we thought we had all infectious disease under control. For this to be approved in one year’s time, when previous vaccines took decades to develop, is thanks to the ingenuity of the researchers.

“It’s just like the whole world has gotten together,” said Barnard, adding that the top scientists worked together to “find the best possible solution to this world phenomenon.”

Alberta Health Services (AHS) said the vaccine rollout is happening in phases and is expected to take several months to complete.

In central zone, about 313 staff and physicians were expected to have received the vaccine as of 3 p.m. Thursday.

“Staff and physicians identified for immunization during this preliminary phase have been selected based on their level of interaction with individuals that are COVID-19 positive, their risk of transmission from COVID-19 positive cases, as well as their role on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response,” says AHS.

Alberta received a batch of 25,350 Pfizer vaccine doses this week — 1,950 of which are earmarked for Red Deer.

The first phase of vaccine rollout focuses on respiratory therapists, intensive care physicians and staff, and long-term care and designated supportive living facility workers across Alberta.

While it has been strongly recommended that healthcare workers get the vaccine when offered, immunization remains voluntary.

AHS is working to triage vaccine supply as it becomes available. The supply will be relatively limited in December with more regular allotments expected next month and in the months following.

As of Thursday, there were 12 patients in Red Deer hospital’s ICU, including eight COVID patients.

Red Deer’s ICU and coronary care unit have 18 beds, and can expand to 20 beds if necessary.

AHS says there are contingency plans in place across the province to ensure beds — including ICU spaces — are available for COVID patients.

In coming weeks, about 2,250 acute care beds, and 425 ICU beds will be allocated for COVID patients province-wide. So far Red Deer is managing with existing beds, while making plans to expand capacity across central zone as needed.

“We are balancing that approach with maintaining as much non COVID-related health care services as possible, such as scheduled surgeries and ambulatory care services,” says AHS.

ICU occupancy remains high across the province and Albertans are urged to follow the health guidelines outlined by chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw. Those include a ban on indoor and outdoor gatherings.

AHS also reminds people that if they experience potentially serious health issues, such as chest pain, to go to the emergency department.

“We understand some people may be anxious to visit an emergency department. However, our hospitals and emergency departments remain a safe place to come and to receive care – there is no increased risk to patients coming to hospital.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


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

Just Posted

Alberta recorded a single-day record of over 57,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta hits daily record of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Central zone has administered 111,735 doses of the COVID-19

Alberta reported an additional 1,980 cases of COVID-19 Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer adds 37th death from COVID-19, active cases drop

Alberta Health identified an additional 1,980 cases of the virus province-wide

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Mom’s Diner’s Facebook page)
FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman didn’t expect to get hit with a double whammy at… Continue reading

A courtroom at the Edmonton Law Courts building, in Edmonton on Friday, June 28, 2019. The effect of the coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact on the Canadian justice system warn a number of legal experts. The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench announced Sunday it would adjourn all scheduled trials across the province for at least 10-weeks limiting hearings to only emergency or urgent matters. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton mother found guilty of manslaughter in death of five-year-old girl

EDMONTON — An Edmonton woman was found guilty Friday of manslaughter in… Continue reading

A Statistics Canada 2016 Census mailer sits on the key board of a laptop after arriving in the mail at a residence in Ottawa, May 2, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Statistics Canada sees more demand to fill out census online during pandemic

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the response to the census is higher… Continue reading

Travellers, who are not affected by new quarantine rules, arrive at Terminal 3 at Pearson Airport in Toronto, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. Ottawa will create a new digital platform to help in processing immigration applications more quickly and efficiently after COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for a faster shift to a digital immigration system, the immigration department said. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ottawa to create new system to tackle delays in processing immigration applications

Ottawa says it will create a new digital platform to help process… Continue reading

A man on a skateboard and a young woman pass large letters spelling out UBC at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver on November 22, 2015. The federal government is writing off more than $200 million in outstanding student loan payments that officials will never be able to collect. Recently released spending documents show the government won't collect $203.5 million in debts from 34,240 students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan

VANCOUVER — A B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing is set to start… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday’s $25 million Lotto max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $25 million jackpot… Continue reading

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
States scale back vaccine orders as interest in shots wanes

MADISON, Wis. — States asked the federal government this week to withhold… Continue reading

Toronto FC coach Chris Armas talks with his players during a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg soccer match against Mexico's Cruz Azul at Azteca stadium in Mexico City, Tuesday, May 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Fernando Llano
Toronto FC coach Chris Armas returns to Red Bull Arena to face former team

Toronto FC coach Chris Armas returns to Red Bull Arena to face former team

Most Read