Alberta family doctors permitted to administer vaccines in their offices
CALGARY -- Alberta's family doctors will soon be able to administer vaccines in their offices, expanding the health system's ability to get shots into people's arms.
The province estimates family doctors could potentially administer upward of 14,000 shots a day, assuming a steady supply of vaccine to the province.
Alberta Health says 500 individual doctors and an additional 185 physician clinics have expressed interest in joining the vaccination effort.
The announcement came as new federal expected shipment numbers were released, showing Alberta is set to receive more than a million doses of the Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna vaccines by the middle of May.
There were no specific quantities promised of AstraZeneca.
Using family physicians to vaccinate could also have an added benefit in a long-term strategy to get life back to normal: calming the concerns of people hesitant about the shot.
"Vaccine uptake fundamentally is really driven by trust, whether that's trust in government, trust in Health Canada, trust in the pharmaceutical companies," said Dr Jia Hu, a physician with the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine. "Family doctors are probably one of the best, most trusted sources of information on vaccine.
"By the time you book an appointment at public health, or book an appointment at a pharmacy, you've probably made the decision you're going to get the vaccine already. We know at least 30 to 40 per cent of the population is still waiting or unsure."
Dr. Hu says if family doctors could increase the number of vaccinated people by even a few per cent, it would help move the province closer to herd immunity, limiting the virus's ability to spread.