Alberta aims to offer COVID-19 vaccines to general public by summer
CALGARY -- The provincial government hopes to start rolling out COVID-19 vaccines to the general public as early as this summer.
Premier Jason Kenney made the announcement during a Facebook Live broadcast he hosted Tuesday evening.
"Based on our current projections of vaccine supply, we should be able to open it up to the general population in the summer around June," said Kenney. "But it all depends on the supply that we get from the federal government."
The premier added that the province will continue to focus its vaccine efforts on inoculating health-care workers on the frontlines, long-term care workers and the general population in nursing homes, along with paramedics.
Kenney says the plan next week will likely shift toward opening up vaccinations for Albertans aged 75 and older and then gradually moving down through age brackets in the months to follow.
Alberta’s vaccine rollout
According to the federal government, Alberta has received 59,800 vaccines to date including 42,900 Pfizer/BioNTech and 16,900 Moderna.
A total of 52,318 doses had been administered as of Jan. 11.
Meanwhile, the Government of Canada has forecasted Alberta to receive the following vaccine shipments in the coming weeks:
- Jan 11-17 (24,375 doses)
- Jan 18-24 (24,375 doses)
- Jan 25-31 (24,375 doses)
- Feb 1-7 (42,900 doses)
- Feb 8-14 (42,900 doses)
- Feb 15-21 (42,900 doses)
- Feb 22-28 (42,900 doses)
- Jan 11-17 (17,100 doses)
- Feb 1-7 (24,600 doses)
- Feb 22-28 (27,000 doses)
With the forecasted shipments and the original supplies, Alberta will have received a total of 373,225 vaccine doses by the end of February.
The federal government has told Alberta that it can expect to receive 677,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines by the end of March.
Alberta’s goal is to administer 50,000 doses of the vaccine per week by the end of January and it’s stretch goal for the end of March is 200,000 doses per week.
Kenney takes note of Israeli vaccine success
Alberta’s current vaccination numbers are a far cry from what other jurisdictions around the world have managed to administer in very short order.
In Israel, more than 1.8 million people have already been given at least one of two doses of the coronavirus vaccine — accounting for a fifth of the population of nine million.
Premier Kenney says he spoke Tuesday over the phone with Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein in an effort to learn from Israel’s successes. Data compiled by Oxford University suggests Israel has achieved the highest immunization rate in the world.
Kenney says a key takeaway is the fact that vaccines prevent the risk of contracting the virus, but they won’t put an immediate end to the pandemic.
"He (Edelstein) told us that on one hand Israel was doing amazing with vaccines, but also had its worst day in the history of the pandemic in 10 months Tuesday," said Kenney during the Facebook Live.
"Edelstein said part of the problem is, because of widespread vaccination, a lot of people think the pandemic is over and they can go back to their normal lives."
Alberta looking for alternative vaccines
Premier Jason Kenney said Monday that Alberta is on pace to exhaust its current supply of vaccine as early as next week if shipments don't arrive on time.
The concerns have prompted the province to look into the potential of striking agreements with manufacturers that are not locked into vaccine purchasing agreements with the federal government.
"What I’ve asked our technical people to do, is to see whether there are any other vaccines the feds have not contracted with that we potentially could go to directly," Kenney said.
"Obviously a small jurisdiction like Alberta is not going to have a lot of purchasing power or ability to get far up the queue so I don’t want to hold false promise. But we will explore to see if maybe there are some producers that the feds don’t have arrangements with that we could get at least some vaccines as we go later throughout the year."
So far, 65 vaccines worldwide are in clinical trials on humans and 20 have reached the final stages of testing.
Only Pfizer/BioNTech & Moderna vaccines are currently approved by Health Canada, but Ottawa has also signed exclusive rights for the Canadian market with other providers.
Agreements have been signed with the following suppliers:
- AstraZeneca - 20 million doses
- Johnson & Johnson - Up to 38 million doses
- Medicago - Up to 76 million doses
- Moderna - 40 million doses
- Novavax - Up to 76 million doses
- Pfizer - Up to 76 million doses
- Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline - Up to 72 million doses