As the COVID-19 vaccine supply continues to hold steady, Alberta is readying to administer more second doses.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that the province will announce plans next week and Premier Jason Kenney said Friday that second doses will start soon.
“It is important to underscore we are well ahead of the rest of Canada already in administering second doses. We’re twice as high as the national average amongst Canadian provinces in second dose administration. So we’ve got a good head start there,” Kenney said in a press conference Friday.
Alberta has administered over 2.6 million doses of the vaccine and about 8.1 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated with two doses.
Across Alberta, 85 per cent of people 75 and over have received their first doses of the vaccine, while 70 per cent of them have two doses.
According to the province’s geographic mapping of vaccine distribution, 47 per cent of the population in Red Deer has been vaccinated with first dose and seven per cent are fully vaccinated.
That compares to 38 per cent in Red Deer County who have one shot and 43.5 per cent in Lacombe. Red Deer County has six per cent fully vaccinated and Lacombe has eight per cent.
In Sylvan Lake, 38 per cent of people have received at least one dose and 4.8 per cent are fully vaccinated.
The province is expected to receive 560,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 58,000 Moderna doses in the next two weeks.
Kenney added the province is scheduled to receive 1.1 million doses in the next month and have about 500,000 appointments already booked for more first doses.
He said Friday that further clarification about the wait time between doses by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization allowed them to push forward the vaccine timeline.
In a statement Friday, the NACI panel noted that its recommended four-month dose interval should be the “upper limit,” and provinces and territories should aim to start administering second doses as quickly as local logistics allow.
They also recommended that those at highest risk of dying or becoming severely ill should be prioritized for second shots at the same time or after the remaining eligible population receives their first dose.
“One of the reasons we are seeing a much lower death rate than large provinces, particularly this spring, was the decision to double dose the vast majority of the elderly seniors and people with serious chronic conditions. We’ve got a head start, but we’re glad to have the clearance from NACI,” Kenney said.
“More importantly, we’re glad to have the supply to make this possible. The science was very clear, we should maximize first dose protection until we had adequate supply to pivot back to second doses.”
– With files from the Canadian Press