by Stephen Dafoe
A couple of weeks after opening eligibility of the AstraZeneca vaccine to those 55 and older, the province is now opening AstraZeneca vaccine to Albertans 40 and over. The move is estimated to open vaccinations for another 574,425 Albertans.
Starting April 20, Alberta Health Services and participating pharmacies will take appointments for Albertans born in 1981 or earlier. Additionally, walk-in clinics in Edmonton and Calgary and specific pharmacies across the province will take walk-ins for administering AstraZeneca to those 40-64.
“With COVID-19 cases at high levels throughout the province, we are lowering the age eligibility for this vaccine so that as many Albertans as possible are able to choose the protection this vaccine offers,” said Minister of Health Tyler Shandro in a media release Monday morning. “The more people that get vaccinated as quickly as possible, the sooner we can protect our communities, reduce the burden on our healthcare system, and get life back to normal in our province.”
Despite two Albertans developing blood clots after taking the vaccine, the province says its decision to reduce the age of eligibility is based on public health recommendations and that the benefit outweighs the risk. Alberta Health says AstraZeneca can reduce infection by 60-70 per cent, and severe outcomes, including hospitalization by 80 per cent.
“I recommend any Albertan who is 40 or older consider getting the AstraZeneca vaccine as soon as possible. I know some Albertans have concerns about recent cases of blood clots,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw in the same release. “This is understandable, and it is also important to remember that these cases are extremely rare. This vaccine helps prevent the much higher risks that come from COVID-19 infection, helping to protect both you and those around you.”
As of Saturday, 100,000 doses of AstraZeneca had been administered, and there are currently more than 170,000 doses available.