Dr. Deena Hinshaw to provide update on COVID-19, variants and vaccines

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, will provide an update Tuesday on COVID-19 and expanding vaccination efforts.

Hinshaw will hold a news conference at 3:30 p.m. MT. You can watch it live here. 

As cases continue to surge, the province has expanded its immunization campaign, lowering the age of eligibility for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.

People born in 1981 or earlier started booking appointments at 8 a.m. Tuesday through the AHS online booking tool or by calling Health Link 811.

The vaccine is being offered at more than 70 pharmacies and Alberta Health Services vaccination sites across the province, including walk-in clinics in Edmonton and Calgary.

AstraZeneca is the only vaccine Alberta is making available to people as young as 40. Lowering the age eligibility means 575,000 more Albertans are now eligible for the shot.

As of Sunday, Alberta had about 170,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine available.

It’s unclear when the next batch will arrive. Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said appointments will be booked for as long as supplies last.

“We do not currently have additional AstraZeneca shipments scheduled to arrive into Canada,” McMillan said in a statement Tuesday. 

“Anyone over 40 who is currently eligible for AstraZeneca and does not book an appointment to receive the vaccine will be eligible to get immunized later when more vaccines arrive.”

There have been reports of thousands of AstraZeneca appointments going unused in recent days.

Some Albertans have been reluctant to line up for the vaccine following reports of possible blood clots, but Hinshaw has urged anyone who is eligible to get the shot.

As of Sunday, 1,165,223 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered across the province with 233,340 Albertans fully immunized with two shots. 

On Monday, the province reported 1,391 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases in the province to 18,424.

An additional 1,160 cases of variants of concern were also reported. The more transmissible strains now account for 56.8 per cent of Alberta’s active caseload.

There were 460 people in hospital with COVID-19, 104 of them in intensive care. As of Monday, 2,043 Albertans had died.

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