'Feeling overwhelmingly privileged': Alberta’s first health-care workers receive COVID-19 vaccine
CALGARY -- It's an historic moment in Alberta's battle against the COVID-19 pandemic as the province enters its second day of immunizations Wednesday.
It comes after 3,900 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were delivered to health-care workers on the frontlines, with the first vaccines administered late Tuesday afternoon in Calgary and Edmonton.
"I’m feeling overwhelmingly privileged," said ICU nurse Tanya Harvey, who was the first Calgary frontline worker to receive the vaccine at the Foothills Medical Centre.
"I’m feeling like I am at the beginning of a recovery for our province, for our people, our communities, our economy, and our healthcare system because that’s what this is — this represents turning the corner on beating the coronavirus."
Sahra Kaahiye, a respiratory therapist at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, was the very first Albertan to receive the vaccine.
"I do feel like I have an extra level of protection for myself as well as my patients," she told CTV News Edmonton after she received the first of two doses of the vaccine.
"I have a lot of compromised patients, especially in the respiratory wards, so I’m definitely feeling like I am protecting them as well as protecting myself."
It’s good news for those that have already received their first dose, but also exciting for those scheduled to get vaccinated this week like Edmonton respiratory therapist, Kayla Hill.
"It’s exciting — it’s the first thing that we really have to look forward to in a long time," said Hill. "I think it’s just going to be an overwhelming sense of relief."
Premier Jason Kenney echoed those comments at his COVID-19 briefing Tuesday afternoon.
"This is a game changer," said Kenney. "This is a happy day after these nine tough months."
Another 25,350 doses of the vaccine are expected to be delivered to Alberta next week with the goal of immunizing 29,000 health-care workers by the end of the year.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two separate doses to be taken within three weeks of each other.
The 29,000 doses will act as first doses for all health-care workers until more arrive, according to Alberta Health.
Those eligible for the vaccine include ICU doctors and nurses, respiratory therapists, and some workers in long-term or acute care homes.
Moderna COVID-19 vaccine expected to arrive soon
Alberta also expects to start using the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in early January, pending federal government approval.
Health Canada is now in the final stages of the review process for the Moderna vaccine as 168,000 doses are expected to arrive before the end of the year. The first doses will be administered within 48 hours of approval.
Moderna’s vaccine will be directed to four northern remote Indigenous communities first, including High Level, Alta., which will take part in a dry run test.
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro said this week the Moderna vaccine would be prioritized for continuing care residents. He notes that it also won't require ultra-cold storage so the hope is to get doses out to the first continuing care residents before Dec. 31
"The Moderna dry run is expected to take place on December 18 and involves receiving empty vaccine containers that must be kept at -20 ," Shandro added on Twitter.
"To be clear, this is a standard process, and the same exercise was undertaken to prepare for the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine."
Once more shipments of vaccines arrive, the province aims to expand immunizations to include residents of long-term care, designated supportive living facilities, along with seniors aged 75 and over and First Nations living on reserves aged 65 and over.