In this undated photo issued by the University of Oxford, a volunteer is administered the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford / John Cairns)

Opinion: Alberta vaccine rollout lacking transparency

If a provincial election was called tomorrow, Premier Jason Kenney and his UCP party may not like the results.

A new poll says 41 per cent of Albertans would vote for the NDP and only 26 per cent would cast a ballot for the provincial government.

Another nine per cent would back the Wildrose Independence Party.

The Alberta Party would get three per cent of the vote, the Liberals and Greens two per cent and two per cent would support other parties. Sixteen per cent were not sure who they would support.

Those results came in earlier this week, as Kenney announced giving as many first doses of the vaccine as possible and to count on future shipments for second doses.

Although this announcement is a step in the right direction to help curb the ongoing pandemic, a lot more would have to be done to win Alberta voters back.

For one, there’s the recent travel scandal. Although it’s been about two weeks since that unfolded, it is something Albertans will remember for months to come.

A 91-year-old Red Deer resident wrote to the Advocate in a letter recently about how she spent Christmas alone in her room, while members of the caucus were travelling over the holidays.

“Never ever will I trust you (Jason Kenney) or your party again,” wrote Lillian Glover.

The Kenney government isn’t getting high marks for the way it’s handling the vaccine rollout either, and both our healthcare system and our economy is riding on the success of that process.

There’s a lack of transparency and clarity as to how the rollout process is going on a daily basis.

Questions remain unanswered: Paramedics were left behind in the initial rollout of vaccines but as of this week, they are included. The government’s logic behind that is not known.

Firefighters are so far not part of the rollout. Can Albertans expect this to change also?

How is it decided exactly which health-care worker gets that vaccine call?

On Tuesday, the government website showed how many vaccines were administered in the last 24 hours – this number should’ve been posted weeks ago.

We also know the government has a vaccine rollout Task Force in place. Albertans would be justified in expecting a daily brief vaccine update from the task force team right after the chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw provides COVID statistics.

Some data is available online on alberta.ca/covid but questions such as what is the next goal, when is the next deadline, what is the goal by the end of today, the end of this week and this month, how many doses remain until we run out and so on, are not easily available.

The province needs to have daily progress information streamlined, neatly packaged online, for any Albertan to see. This data should show a goal versus versus outcome on a daily basis.

Discrepancies also remain between what we hear from the officials versus what we see on the Alberta government website. For instance, Premier Kenney announced Tuesday night that vaccines will be available to the general population starting in June. Although this is remarkably positive, the website states the province’s original goal in fall. This may as well be a temporary lag, but it gets confusing quickly for an Albertan who doesn’t follow the news every day, but wants to know exactly when the vaccine will be available to them with an online search.

We know that the government set a goal to hand out its first 29,000 doses of the vaccine by the end of December. That happened, but a few days late.

A daily distribution tracker will help Albertans understand how we’re progressing every day and hold our government accountable when needed.



mamta.lulla@reddeeradvocate.com

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Mamta Lulla is acting editor at the Red Deer Advocate.

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