Alberta is geared up for widespread vaccine delivery. Ultra-cold freezers have been installed at eight locations across the province and shipments of Pfizer vaccine will be arriving at those sites next week. (Photo by Government of Alberta)

Alberta is geared up for widespread vaccine delivery. Ultra-cold freezers have been installed at eight locations across the province and shipments of Pfizer vaccine will be arriving at those sites next week. (Photo by Government of Alberta)

Updated: First 3,900 doses of COVID vaccine have arrived in Alberta

Vaccination of health-care workers to begin this week

Alberta’s first 3,900 doses of COVID-19 vaccine arrived Monday and another 25,350 doses will be coming next week, ahead of schedule.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro called the announcement the “first real ray of light in the dark night that our health-care professionals have lived through for 10 months now.”

In a Monday afternoon news conference, Shandro said the Pfizer vaccine has been stored in ultra-cold freezers in Calgary and Edmonton and staff are being trained to administer the vaccine, which will first go to intensive care unit staff and respiratory therapists and eligible continuing care staff in those cities.

Shandro said the latest news means that about 29,000 of health care workers will get their first of two vaccination shots by the end of the month.

“They can all be first doses,” he said. “We don’t have to hold back any of that portion for the second dose.”

As well, a “significant number of doses” of the Moderna vaccine — not yet approved in Canada — are expected to begin arriving later this month, he said.

“It won’t require ultra-cold storage so we hope to get it to the first continuing care residents before Dec. 31.”

Shandro said they can get the vaccines out as fast as possible but reminded Albertans the process will take months.

If people, encouraged by the vaccine news and improving infection statistics, let down their guard “it will cause a whole new crisis,” he warned.

“It’s not over. These next few weeks are going to be the toughest yet. But relief is on the way and it’s starting this week.”

Shandro said because the vaccine must be administered at the delivery sites in Edmonton and Calgary they cannot get to continuing care facilities yet but said that will happen “very, very soon.”

The province is already geared up for widespread vaccine delivery. The number of dedicated vaccine locations has been expanded to eight sites across the province.

Paul Wynnyk, chair of the province’s COVID-19 Task Force, said ultra-cold freezers have been installed at eight locations and shipments of the vaccine will be arriving at those sites next week.

These doses will be provided to respiratory therapists, intensive care unit physicians and staff, and eligible long-term care and designated supportive living workers across the province.

Eight more cold storage units will arrive by the end of the month and another 20 are coming in January.

As well, seven storage units designed for the Moderna vaccine are arriving this month with another 16 scheduled to arrive next month.

“We are truly, truly well prepared,” Wynnyk said. “Albertans can be confident this vaccine is safe and will be administered efficiently without compromising quality.”

“These vaccines represent the start of a routine to normalcy and the protection of our most vulnerable.”

Alberta medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said 1,887 more COVID cases were identified on Sunday and 20,000 more tests completed with a positivity rate over eight per cent.

There are 716 people in hospital, 136 of them in the ICU. Fifteen people have died from the virus in the last 24 hours bringing the number of deaths to 733.

Hinshaw said there were signs that case numbers had hit a plateau over the last week, but cautioned that a single week’s data does not indicate a trend and daily case remain high.

Hinshaw said the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine ahead of schedule is “good news and a little bit of hope in a difficult time.”

To begin immunizing long-term care residents, a vaccine needs to be available that can easily be stored and transported long distances, she said.

“We do not yet have the ability to do this onward transport from the sites that are receiving the initial shipments,” she said.

So far, there have been more than 5,000 cases of COVID in long-term and acute care facilities across Alberta, she said.

Hinshaw was asked if the sooner-than-expected arrival of the vaccine meant full immunization might happen earlier than next fall as projected. It is difficult to use the current experience to predict what might happen months down the road, she said.

As more vaccines arrive in January, the focus will be on Phase 1 priority populations, including long-term care and supportive living communities, followed by seniors over 75 and those 65 and older on First Nations reserves, and Inuit and on-site Metis seniors.

City of Red Deer now has 408 active cases, according to the geospatial map on the government’s COVID website. Red Deer County has 105 active cases, Sylvan Lake has 55, City of Lacombe 32, City of Wetaskiwin 58, Lacombe County 65, Olds 27, Clearwater County 69, Mountain View County 35, and County of Stettler 22.

Collectively, Ponoka County and Wetaskiwin County have 271 active cases.



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the Canadian government should consider sanctions on the U.S. if they refuse to reconsider the decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Keystone XL officially cancelled, Kenney vows to fight on

U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled the presidential permit for the pipeline on first day of office

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said province’s test positivity rate for COVID-19 is steadily declining. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
669 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta, 21 additional deaths

COVID-19 test positivity rate down to 4.5 per cent

The Calnash Ag Event Centre will be closed for competitions until at least Jan. 21, 2020. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Outlook for Calnash in 2021 a waiting game

Ag event centre losing thousands during shutdown

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported an additional 456 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Five new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, two in Red Deer

Province reports 456 new cases of COVID-19

The team that disconnected, lifted and loaded the old Bobtail Road bridge. (Photo submitted)
Bobtail Road bridge moves to new home in Meridian Beach

The 100-year-old bridge was moved Jan. 14

Kyla Gibson with her boyfriend Gavin Hardy. (Photo used with permission)
Sylvan Lake couple lose ‘fur babies’ to house fire

‘They were our world and nothing will ever replace them,’ Kyla Gibson said of her three pets

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canadian malls, conference centres, hotels offer up space for COVID vaccination centres

Commercial real estate association REALPAC said that a similar initiative was seeing success in the U.K.

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden are sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington

A memorial for the fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards
‘End of the road:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy’s Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. Public opposition to the Alberta government’s plans to expand coal mining in the Rocky Mountains appears to be growing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File
Alberta cancels coal leases, pauses future sales, as opposition increases

New Democrat environment critic Marlin Schmidt welcomed the suspension

COVID update Jan. 19
Ponoka County COVID-19 numbers on steady decline

Numbers of active cases of COVID-19 have continued to drop in Ponoka… Continue reading

File photo
Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit recovers valuable stolen property

Property valued at over $50,000 recovered by Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit.

Most Read