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Alta. premier, health minister non-committal on getting COVID-19 shot this fall

As COVID-19 cases in Canada rise and updated vaccines make headlines once again, Alberta’s premier and health minister were non-committal about getting the shot this fall when speaking on Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference, Premier Danielle Smith was asked if she would be getting a COVID-19 shot.

“Look, I'm a healthy person, I tend to take care of my immune system. And I'm deep, I believe this is something I should talk about with my doctor, not media,” Smith said.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, some doctors are recommending Canadians roll up their sleeves once again this fall.

Alberta’s Minister of Health Adriana LaGrange was also asked about the shot and emphasized that she is in good health.

“I'm very healthy as well. I have a very healthy immune system. And you know what? I also believe that this is a personal decision for individuals to make. I will look at that as time progresses and what my journey is,” LaGrange said.

“But again, this is a personal decision. People have to make it for themselves (and) for their children. And we respect the decisions that people make.”

Health Canada recently approved a new COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna that targets the Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5.

The federal government will send out the new vaccine to provinces and territories, which are in charge of rolling them out to the public.

Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, Diana Batten, NDP MLA for Calgary-Acadia, said she would get an updated COVID-19 vaccine as soon as she can.

“I know that yes, even as a healthy individual, I need to take my vaccines to keep everyone else safe. So the moment that I can get (it) into my arm, I will in addition to the annual flu shot. I know how important it is,” Batten said.

According to the Government of Alberta, “approved vaccines are safe, effective and continue to play a role in preventing COVID-19 infection and limiting its spread.”

“More importantly, these vaccines help prevent serious illness from COVID-19 infection. You're encouraged to review current evidence to make an informed decision about your health,” the province said on its website.

Omicron EG.5, an XBB variant, is estimated to be the dominant strain in the country by Health Canada.


Timothy Caulfield, a professor of health law and science policy at the University of Alberta, said he's disappointed in the response from the premier and health minister.

He believes the answers given Wednesday are just the latest example of the United Conservatives politicizing the vaccination conversation.

"There's no real reason not to disclose your vaccination status," Caulfield told CTV News. "The CDC has approved these vaccines for everyone. Health Canada has approved these vaccines for everyone. We have a robust body of evidence supporting them, and by not giving us (their) vaccination status or suggesting that (they) actually don't need to, politicizes it."

"Let's normalize getting vaccinated."

Caulfield speculates the answers were a way for Smith and LaGrange to appeal to their base.

"It is really disappointing that we are here again after all these years," he said. "They're trying to make it sound like not revealing their status is a neutral position. It's not."

With files from CTV News’ Megan DeLaire and The Canadian Press Top Stories

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