Vaccine shortages could be ‘common,’ says Alta. CMOH

EDMONTON — Alberta’s top doctor says the province is likely to again run out of vaccine product, as it did Wednesday, sending Albertans and health-care workers back into the queue.

Alberta Health Services said due to a shortage of the Moderna shot, about 2,000 immunization appointments for long-term care and supportive living residents were pushed back to Friday, when the shipment was expected to arrive.

And in the Calgary medical zone, another 1,500 health-care worker immunization appointments were closed so that doses could be used for care home residents.

“We need more product,” AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson told CTV News Edmonton.

“Central Zone completely ran out of vaccine over the weekend. Numerous North Zone sites ran out of vaccines over the past few days, and South Zone had to reduce the number of available appointments.”

Speaking during a pandemic update that afternoon, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said a start-and-stall cycle may become “relatively common,” but wouldn’t go so far as saying Alberta expanded its list of eligibility too quickly.

“We’re trying to strike that balance where we have enough people eligible that we’re able to always fill our available appointments, so there will always be a need for people to wait and be patient, but of course we always want to expand on that leading edge so that we’re not leaving appointment space open and unfilled.”

To minimize this, Hinshaw said AHS was closely monitoring supply, forecasting appointments and trying to reduce inconveniences during rescheduling. 

875 NEW CASES

On Wednesday, Alberta reported a provincial positivity rate of 5.3 per cent, announcing 875 new cases amongst 16,000 tests the day before.

There are 820 Albertans in hospital, 137 of whom are in ICUs.

Hinshaw also reported 23 more COVID-19-related deaths. While many were linked to outbreaks at care homes in Edmonton and Calgary, the chief medical officer of health reminded the public: “They ranged in age from 48 to 96. Men and women whose passing leaves a hole in the lives of those who cared about them.”

While Hinshaw called both the lower-than-recent positivity rate and falling hospital numbers “encouraging,” she has said they still demonstrate why protective measures need to stay in place until the vaccine has been offered to the larger public.

As of Jan. 12, more than 58,000 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines had been administered in Alberta.

AHS has organized nine satellite clinics across the province to vaccinate more than 425 emergency department staff, a pilot plan they hope will increase access to the vaccine program.

‘ALL IN THIS TOGETHER’ AN ‘IRREFUTABLE FACT’ OF COVID-19

In the meantime, the top doctor sent a message of encouragement to Albertans who were growing tired of living through a pandemic, calling her frequent phrase, “We are all in this together,” less slogan than an “irrefutable, biological fact” of the disease.  

“COVID-19 shows us that a grocery store clerk is connected not only to the shopper, but also to the shopper’s kids, their coworkers, and friends. It shines a light on the link between a long-term care resident and the worker who cares for them, as well as the worker’s spouse, the coworkers of those spouses, and those coworkers’ friends. COVID-19 doesn’t care about anyone’s race, religion or political references. All that matters to it is whether an infectious person is close enough to another person for long enough for the virus to be able to spread,” Hinshaw said.

“When cases rise, it is because we are infecting each other. When cases fall, it is because we are protecting each other. What we do with this reality is up to each to us.”

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