Alberta opens COVID-19 booster shots to all Albertans over 18

December 21, 2021
Unvaccinated adults can attend indoor holiday gatherings, Kenney says

Starting immediately, all Albertans aged 18 and older who received their second COVID-19 vaccine at least five months ago can book a third dose, the province announced Tuesday.

“The severity of the Omicron variant is not yet known, but it is clear that there is an increased risk of transmission,” the Alberta government said in a news release. “Expanded availability of third doses of COVID-19 vaccine will help provide increased protection and prevent community spread.”

The Pfizer vaccine will be used as a booster to Albertans between the ages of 18 and 29 as research has shown Moderna could increase slighty the risk of myocarditis in younger people, especially males, the release said.

However, individuals are much more likely to experience myocarditis from a COVID-19 infection than the vaccine, it said.

Premier Jason Kenney will update Albertans on the province’s surge in cases of the Omicron variant on Tuesday afternoon.

Kenney, Health Minister Jason Copping and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, will host a briefing today at 3:30 p.m. MT.

Watch the news conference here.

Omicron variant taking off

The average number of new daily cases, including the number of Albertans infected with the Omicron variant, has grown in recent days. Test positivity rates recorded on Saturday and Sunday reached the highest levels since October.

Alberta has 5,652 total active cases, up from 4,431 on Friday. The number of Omicron cases soared over the weekend to 1,045, 879 more than Friday’s count. 

There are 324 people in hospital with the disease, including 69 in intensive care units. 

There have been 3,292 deaths from COVID-19 in Alberta since the pandemic began.

As Omicron spreads, Alberta Health Services (AHS) has implemented visitor restrictions at hospitals and continuing care facilities.

Starting Tuesday, visitors and designated support people who are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 will not be able to access continuing care or acute-care sites for 14 days from the date of last exposure.

“This temporary measure mirrors similar limits to visitation during previous waves and is intended to protect patients, residents and health-care providers,” AHS said in a statement Monday.

Alberta is also racing to restock pharmacy shelves after its rollout of rapid antigen test kits got off to a bumpy start Friday. 

Between Friday and Monday, Albertans picked up about 230,000 kits of the 500,000 distributed to select pharmacies and AHS sites.

Some sites ran out of stock within a matter of hours, while others contended with long lines as Albertans scrambled to bring home the tests ahead of the holidays. 

The province has two million more tests on hand that will be distributed in the coming days, and another one million additional tests with confirmed shipping dates later this month, said AHS spokesperson Lisa Glover.

“We’ll resupply and expand as fast as we can get supply from the federal government,” Glover said.

“We’ve requested another 4.3 million tests in December, and then we hope to increase to  10 million tests a month starting in January.”

If a specific location does not have kits available, Albertans are encouraged to look online for additional locations.

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