Albertans are less hesitant about getting a COVID-19 vaccine today than they were earlier this year.
About 43.4 per cent of the province’s population has received one dose of the vaccine and altogether Alberta has dished out nearly 2.3 million doses.
Just over seven per cent of the population is fully immunized.
So far, Red Deer has nearly 46,748 people with at least one dose of the vaccine, which is about 42 per cent of the city’s population.
Of the city’s seniors, 83 per cent of people who are 75 and over have one dose. In the 60-74 age group, 77 per cent have received their first shot.
About 33 per cent of youth between the ages of 12 to 19 have been vaccinated with first dose in Red Deer. This group became eligible for vaccines last week.
Camrose and Camrose County has vaccinated 14,800 people or about 49 per cent of its population and Stettler and Stettler County has immunized 4,767 people or 38 per cent with one dose.
A recent Angus Reid poll showed Alberta saw a massive decline in hesitancy and unwillingness to get the vaccine. In January, 45 per cent of Albertans were hesitant or unsure about the vaccine, which dropped to just 17 per cent in the May 17 poll.
“I think that some people wanted to wait and see. We’ve now had millions and millions of doses of these vaccines administered around the world. With very close tracking of any kind of safety signals and we’ve seen the vaccines that we currently have available to us are safe and highly effective,” said Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw Thursday.
“I think as people have been able to see those around them receive vaccines and see the benefit and the reduction in deaths we’ve had over the past several months; see the reduction in hospitalizations in those age groups that are highly immunized, it’s very clear that vaccines provide a great deal of benefit.”
Alberta’s plan to reopen, which is slated to be released next week, will rely heavily on vaccination rates across the province.
“It will be a careful plan that will get us to a great Alberta summer as long as Albertans continue the huge momentum to get vaccinated,” Premier Jason Kenney said Monday.
He said so far Alberta hasn’t had a huge problem with hesitancy, but internal polling suggests there’s about 20 per cent of the population who either won’t get the vaccine or might get it.
“We’re removing as many barriers as we can. We’re doing a huge information campaign. At some point in the summer, we’re going to see demand slow down,” he said.
“We can be optimistic. You’re seeing in some of the states that they’re not reaching 60 per cent of the population vaccinated, I think we’re going to do a lot better.”
Over the next six days, there are 10,084 immunization appointments booked across the Central zone with Alberta Health Services and nearly 1,500 spots still available for booking.
In Red Deer, there are 5,983 appointments booked with close to 1,000 open. Up the highway in Camrose, there are 2,102 booked with 141 open and in Stettler, there are 134 booked with 82 open.
Kenney said while the uptake has been positive, there is room for improvement in some areas.
“It’s pretty spotty, there are some pockets in urban (regions) which are below the average level of vaccination and there are some spots in rural that are,” he said.
“As Dr. (Deena) Hinshaw says, we are trying to find out what lays behind that and how can we help get those folks the info they need or perhaps make it more convenient to get the vaccines.”