Family physicians in Fort McMurray deliver COVID-19 vaccines through pilot project

EDMONTON — A pilot project in Fort McMurray is allowing family doctors to administer vaccines to their patients.

The Alberta Medical Association and Alberta Health partnered with 10 physician clinics in the province to help test a proof of concept of delivering COVID-19 vaccinations by family doctors instead of at pharmacies and mass vaccination sites.

READ MORE: COVID-19 vaccine available at 10 physician clinics in Alberta 

The pilot was designed to test processes and procedures at local clinics in advance of a potential province-wide rollout of vaccines to community clinics.

One of those clinics was Wood Buffalo’s Primary Care Network clinic in Stoneycreek Village.

The clinic has administered 200 initial doses of vaccine and will administer an additional 400 doses after receiving a new shipment Friday.

“We know that Fort McMurray is being hit hard right now and that the sooner we can get vaccines into the arms of our residents, the better,” Lori Apostal, Wood Buffalo Primary Care Network Executive Director said in a statement.

Fort McMurray has an active case rate of 1903.8 per 100,000 population – one of the highest in Alberta.

“It was very hard to be on the sidelines of the pandemic for so long, especially as we saw our case numbers climbing higher and higher,” Apostal said.

Dr. Helen Akosile-Xulu, board chair for Wood Buffalo Primary Care Network, said in a statement that family health-care providers are perfectly positioned to help get people vaccinated.

“We have an ongoing relationship with our patients and know that a lot of them are on the fence when it comes to getting vaccinated,” Akosile-Xulu said. “Having a meaningful conversation with care providers they know and trust proved to be very beneficial and comforting to our patients.”

If the pilot is determined successful, Alberta Health could expand vaccine rollout in June, depending on vaccine supply.

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