CALGARY -- Alberta is falling behind the rest of the country when it comes to administering the initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The province ranks 11th amongst the 13 provinces and territories when it comes to the percentage of the eligible population who have received the first dose.

"We’ve been riding a wave of confidence," said Dr. Cora Constantinescu, pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. "We’ve seen a lot of people come forward a lot of people wanting to get vaccinated across Canada.

"We are however seeing a bit of a slowdown on that first wave uptake.'

Right now, roughly 66.98 percent of Albertans 12 years of age or older have received the first shot, according to data from Alberta Health. 

"The question is, is this enough?," explained Constantinescu. "It’s enough to get us past the third wave but not enough to provide us that long term protection and not enough to provide us variant protection.

"It’s enough to give us a good summer, but not enough to actually end this."

Constantinescu said public health campaigns are needed now more than ever to reach vaccine hesitant people. 

The infectious disease specialist said it's hard to know exactly what the magical number will be to achieve herd immunity for overall community protection. She said second doses are crucial for increased protection.

"It depends how many people get the dose but then also how many people complete this series. That’s really important because that we know is much more protective against variants and that affects how long the immunity lasts which also plays into herd immunity."

She said there is strong evidence to show two doses protect against variants, but there are still unknowns. Constantinescu said no Albertan should be left behind in the vaccine rollout. 

"The question is what happens if a new variant comes and it spreads and it spreads among those people who are unvaccinated first? Or if the virus spreads more within those people who are unvaccinated, it has the potential to have more mutations, the potential to have more variants and what will that mean for the rest of us?"

The province is counting on 70 per cent of eligible Albertans receiving their first dose to enter stage three of the reopening plan, lifting all restrictions.

A three-day immunization blitz at the TELUS Convention Centre immunization site is underway and will continue through Thursday.

AHS said only 200 of a possible 2,000 doses were administered at the site Tuesday. 

The clinic will offer 2,000 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine to eligible recipients who don't have an appointment on each day of the blitz. The clinic is open from 8:20 a.m. to 7:20 p.m.