Alberta is expanding its COVID-19 vaccine booster eligibility to include everyone 18 years of age and older.
Health Minister Jason Kopping said on Wednesday afternoon that the third dose would be given in phases, starting with the first at Old Albertan.
Starting Monday the first Albertans 60 and older will be offered a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Albertans who are in this age group can start booking appointments for their third dose from Thursday.
The health minister said eligible Albertans must wait until at least six months have elapsed after receiving their second dose, before receiving their third dose of vaccine.
Booster doses are based on date of birth, Köpping said, meaning Albertans will have to wait until age 60 to book their appointment.
With the booster rollout taking place in phases based on age, Köpping said he expects bookings for all Albertans 18 and older to begin early next year. The timeline for the rollout will depend on the uptake for booster shots and the availability of the vaccine.
Dr. Dina Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health, said: “With the winter season increasing the transmission risk, and more Albertans approaching the six-month milestone since receiving their second dose, evidence of a safety net. Supports expanding the booster dose to add an extra layer.”
“Vaccines remain our best protection against COVID-19, and I continue to encourage Albertans to book their first, second and third doses as early as possible.
“As long as we have a sufficient supply, we will move through the age groups as quickly as possible.”
The booster will be offered at 1,400 pharmacies in Alberta, AHS sites, some physician clinics, and clinics in First Nations.
As of now, the COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are available to all Albertans 70 and older as well as First Nations, Inuit and Métis 18 and older. Immunized people 12 years of age and older with specific conditions, residents and senior assisted living facilities, travelers to areas where mixed vaccine doses are not recognized, certain health care workers, and other adults who have received treatment from AstraZeneca/Covishield or Janssen have received the vaccine, they are also currently eligible for one. Third dose of vaccine.
Earlier this month, Health Canada approved booster doses of both the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and Moderna Vaccine for all adults 18 and older. Both approvals state that six months must elapse between a person receiving their second and third doses.
Hinshaw said that when booster doses were first given to people who were at increased risk of decreased protection a month earlier, there was not conclusive evidence to support the need for boosters for the general population.
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Hinshaw said that since then more evidence has emerged from around the world and here in Alberta.
“The protection against serious illness and hospitalization remains high for most individuals even after two doses,” Hinshaw said. “But those who are older and those with a chronic condition are at greater risk of serious consequences if they have a severe infection. Because of this, and given the fact that the transmission risk increases in the winter months, protection against infection over time. With some decreasing vaccine effectiveness, current evidence supports the expansion of booster doses to add an additional layer of protection.
“There are still many people in our communities who have no protection, so offering a third dose to more people is an additional measure to help promote population protection and reduce the spread of COVID-19 going forward. Will happen.”
On Tuesday, the federal government asked the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to quickly provide the latest instructions on the use of boosters in the context of the new Omron version of the concern.
So far, the NACI has recommended booster shots for seniors, frontline health workers, long-term care residents, and other high-risk groups.
Hinshaw said the booster expansion is in line with the discretionary recommendation of Alberta’s Vaccination Advisory Committee that all Albertans 18 and older be offered a booster six months after their second dose.
So far 378,507 Alberta have received their third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Alberta.
Copping said the definition of “fully immunized” in Alberta, where it applies ban waiver program, there will still be two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine or one dose of the Janssen vaccine.
2 additional cases of Omicron type identified in Wednesday’s COVID-19 data
Alberta on Wednesday identified 430 new cases of COVID-19. About 10,800 tests were completed and the province’s positivity rate was 4.1 percent, Hinshaw said.
Of the new cases, two were of Omicron COVID-19 concern. Hinshaw said these cases were identified in close contact with a traveler returning from South Africa and the Netherlands. Alberta Health said both had been vaccinated.
Alberta on Tuesday identified its first case of Omicron. The case pertained to a man returning from Nigeria and the Netherlands “about a week ago”. Alberta Health told Granthshala News that the person had not been vaccinated.
Hinshaw said all three people with the Omicron variant are showing mild symptoms and are recovering at home.
Hospitalizations from COVID-19 are gradually declining, Hinshaw said, of 424 hospitalizations with COVID-19 on Wednesday. Of these, 79 people were being treated in ICU.