EDMONTON — Albert who received his COVID-19 vaccine on or before April is now eligible to book his second dose appointment, the premier announced on Thursday as the province moves into the next phase of reopening.
“Welcome to Stage 2 Alberta,” said premiere Jason Kenney. “We are very close to the post-pandemic reality.
“This is an exciting time for our province as we enter the final stages of this brutal pandemic.”
The threshold to reach Stage 2 requires 60 percent of Albertans age 12 or older to receive their first vaccine dose and fewer than 500 requiring hospitalization. Under the new restrictions, outdoor gatherings of up to 20 people are allowed, gyms and fitness studios can open, and restaurants can resume indoor dining with a maximum of six people per table.
The province on Thursday reported 178 new cases of COVID-19 after completing nearly 5,500 tests. The provincial positivity rate is now 3.3 percent.
The hospital has 3,810 active cases of COVID-19 and 306 patients, of which 81 are in ICU.
Premier said these numbers represent a 31 percent reduction in hospitalizations since Stage 1 began.
The provincial R value, which helps to demonstrate whether COVID-19 is spreading, remains below one meaning community transmission is slowing.
There were six more deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday, including:
Edmonton Zone: A man in his 60s and a woman in her 90s. There was no known concomitant disease in both deaths.
North Zone: A person in his 40s with no known concomitant disease and a person in his 70s who has a co-morbidity.
South Zone: A person in his 60s with comorbidities.
Calgary Zone: A woman in her 70s with a comorbidity.
“It is important to keep up with this encouraging trend,” said Dr. Dina Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “As we move into Stage 2 today, it is important for all of us to follow all the public health measures that are currently in place.”
According to Premier, stage 2 puts in place strong public health measures to keep case counts low as more people gain immunity from vaccines.
“I want to thank every Albertan again who has taken the initiative to get vaccinated,” Kenny said. “You have chosen to protect not only yourself but your surroundings and indeed our entire province.”
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Second Dose Delivery Ramp-UP
According to Premier, the boom in vaccine bookings means another 650,000 Albertans could start booking vaccination appointments.
“We’ve made remarkable progress,” Kenny said. Albertans has worked incredibly hard to crush the spike and vaccinate against COVID-19. But we still have work to do.”
“Albertons need to continue to sign up, show up, and follow up for all first and second doses so that we can eventually put this pandemic behind us.”
Snowbirds asked to submit vaccine records
Alberta people receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations outside Canada or Alberta are being asked to submit their vaccination records to Alberta Health Services (AHS).
Anyone receiving the first, second, or both doses outside Alberta can bring their vaccination records to any of the 141 AHS vaccination clinics throughout the province to update their medical records and ensure their vaccination status. Includes in the province’s overall vaccine tally.
“I am delighted that there are many Albertans who have opted for vaccination while holidaying away from home,” Health Minister Tyler Shandrow said.
“We are determined to ensure that every Albertan, wherever they are vaccinated, is able to access their records through their MyHealth Records account.”
Health Minister Tyler Shandrow said Alberta leads the country in the number of people who are fully vaccinated.
About 16 percent of Albertans aged 12 or older are fully vaccinated, compared to the national average of about 11 percent overall.
“We are the tallest of the four largest provinces by a wide margin,” Shandro said. “Now we are taking another step forward.”
For those who received the AstraZeneca vaccine as their first dose, Shandro said the decision on whether to receive the second dose vaccine is “your choice.”
“We recommend that you wait eight weeks before your first dose, and it is your choice whether you book a second dose of AstraZeneca, or that you choose a second dose of one of the two mRNA vaccines.”
The premier spoke to Albertans, who believe they do not need vaccinations because everyone around them is gaining immunity from vaccines.
“That’s not the Alberta way,” he said. “Let others determine our fate.
“Our opening is not guaranteed, Alberta. We have to continue to get the first dose in arms if we want to reach Stage 3 and full opening.
Incentives for vaccines?
Kenny was asked if Alberta had decided to offer vaccine incentives to help promote vaccination.
The premier said Shandro would present the option to cabinet next Monday.
“We’re at the point where we really have to start moving the trees to demand that first dose,” Kenny said. “We haven’t made a final decision, but we are giving it a serious look.”
Hinshaw clarified that if any incentives are offered, it will take into account all Alberts who have already received their vaccinations.
“If a lottery goes ahead you’re going to be eligible, so don’t wait to take the opportunity you have (to get vaccinated) right now,” she said.
In May, the premier said the province was exploring the option of offering incentives for those who were vaccinated.
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Several businesses in Alberta have offered perks, discounts, free food or drinks for those who have been immunized against COVID-19. The University of Lethbridge created a competition to offer free tuition to nine lucky vaccinated students.
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