EDMONTON — Alberta is easing restrictions on H1N1 vaccinations after limiting the shots for the last two weeks to high-risk people.
The vaccinations will be given next to all seniors over 75, as well as to their spouses or partners, Health Minister Ron Liepert said Monday.
Starting Thursday, anyone between 65 and 75 will be eligible.
It could still be several days before the vaccine is made available to all Albertans — with no restrictions.
“If we can handle seniors over the next four of five days with no issues, then hopefully next week, or as soon as we can, we would open it up to the remainder of the public,” said Liepert.
The minister also expects to start distributing vaccine to doctors’ offices and pharmacists by the end of this week.
“Ultimately, it would be ideal if we could get to the point where we didn’t have mass clinics any more and the vaccinations could be handled by physicians and pharmacists and others.”
Alberta opened clinics to everyone in mid-October, but was forced to shut them down a few days later when supplies ran short. When the clinics reopened, shots were limited to high-risk groups, starting with pregnant women and young children.
Liepert said vaccinations to the general public will be phased in to avoid lengthy lineups.
“One in every six Albertans has been vaccinated and that is a very significant achievement,” he told the legislative assembly.
The province is also taking steps to get vaccine to police, firefighters and paramedics in rural areas across Alberta.
“We will be making arrangements with the various municipalities around the province to provide the vaccine, because in most cases, the municipalities are wanting to do the vaccinations themselves,” Liepert said.