It's an announcement those living and working in long term care have been waiting for: a COVID- 19 vaccine is on its way to long term and supportive living facilities in Alberta, aimed at vaccinating those at highest risk from contracting the virus.
An initial shipment of nearly 17,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine is on its way, and unlike the already-approved Pfizer vaccine which requires strict temperature-controlled conditions for shipment and storage, this vaccine can be more readily transported, according to Tueday's announcement from the Alberta Government.
"Everyone who wants to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to when their turn arrives," said Premier Jason Kenney.
In an email to residents and families of CapitalCare residences, Alberta Health Services said facilities are starting vaccine preparation by getting consent from and information to residents about the Moderna vaccine. Immunization of residents in continuing care facilities started Dec. 30. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will require two doses.
Several CapitalCare facilities are on outbreak, so families of residents are asked to see the AHS or facility websites for the latest updates and how the vaccine roll out will happen at those sites. They include Adult Duplexes, Dickinsfield, Grandview, Kipnes Centre for Veterans, Lynwood, Laurier House Lynwood, McConnell Place North, Norwood and Strathcona.
The vaccine is being delivered to sites in Calgary, St. Paul, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie, Red Deer and Edmonton and will be offered to residents in continuing care facilities in those communities. In addition, the Moderna doses will be offered to residents at six First Nation congregate living facilities on-reserve.
As more shipments of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines arrive in early January, immunization will focus on residents of long-term care and designated supportive living facilities, followed by seniors aged 75 and over and residents aged 65 and over of First Nations reserve communities and Metis settlements. Immunization of respiratory therapists, intensive care physicians and staff, and long-term care and designated supportive living facility workers across Alberta will continue.
“This is heartening news, but we must continue to follow health measures to bend the curve and we must continue to be each others’ vaccine until we are all able to be immunized," said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health.
For the latest information on the vaccine, go to immunizealberta.ca
Phase 2 is still expected to start by April 2021. Final decisions regarding the sequencing of populations to receive the vaccine in Phase 2 have not yet been determined.
Phase 3 will involve rolling out vaccinations to the general Alberta population, and is anticipated to start later in 2021.