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Alberta

All Albertans 12+ eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine

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All Albertans over the age of 12 will soon be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves and stop the spike.

After offering vaccine to Albertans most at risk for severe outcomes, Alberta has now progressed to Phase 3, where everyone over the age of 12 can make an appointment to receive their first dose.

With this expansion, 3.8 million Albertans will become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

To avoid overwhelming booking systems, appointments will be staggered in two age groups.

  • Starting on May 6, every Albertan 30 or older (born in 1991 or earlier), can book an appointment through Alberta Health Services or a participating pharmacy.
  • On May 10, appointment bookings will expand to include Albertans ages 12 to 29 (born in 2009 to 1992).

More than 1.66 million doses of vaccine have now been administered across the province. All vaccine appointments will continue to rely on the incoming supply to Alberta.

“This is a very exciting day for Alberta and it arrives right when we need it the most. We are battling an extremely aggressive third wave of COVID-19 and we know that vaccines are our best weapon against it. By opening bookings to everybody over 12 years of age, we are taking a huge step towards stopping the spike and hopefully putting this pandemic behind us for good.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“We vowed to protect those who were most at risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 first. We’ve done just that, and now, happily, we can move to protect the general population, starting with those age 30 and older. We are ahead of schedule and delivering on our promise to provide at least one dose to every adult Albertan who wants one by June 30. Now that we have gotten to this point, every Albertan can help drive cases down by getting vaccinated.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

“We need every Albertan who is eligible to book their appointment and get immunized. It may take time at first, but please be patient and book your appointment in the coming weeks. This is the most important thing you can do to protect yourselves, your loved ones, and your communities.”

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health                                    

All eligible Albertans will be able to book appointments to receive a mRNA vaccine with AHS online or through 811.

Albertans can also book an appointment for these vaccines through participating pharmacies. To find the closest location to you with an earliest available booking date, check the list on Alberta Blue Cross.

Alberta’s government is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by protecting lives and livelihoods with precise measures to bend the curve, sustain small businesses and protect Alberta’s health-care system.

Alberta

Demand increasing: Canadian Blood Services watching supply as COVID-19 rules eased

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CALGARY — A return to a somewhat normal summer as COVID-19 restrictions are eased is putting a strain on Canada’s blood supply.

Several provinces have started lifting restrictions — most notably Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan — and demand is up as a result.

“As provinces slowly open up, there’s some return to normal activities. Hospital demand is increasing,” said Tracy Smith, the Prairies and Northwest Territories donor relations director for the Canadian Blood Service.

“You can imagine that they are trying to catch up with some of the backlogs, some of those surgeries that were put on hold during the pandemic. They’re trying to get those in … (and) blood products are becoming more in demand.”

The need for blood products tailed off dramatically 16 months ago as the pandemic brought travel to a near standstill and all but the most critical surgeries were cancelled.

At the same time, Canadian Blood Services wasn’t able to accommodate as many donors because of physical-distancing requirements at clinics, so the two balanced each other out.

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million population give blood on a regular basis. 

Canadian Blood Services operates a national inventory that allows products to be regularly shifted around the country to meet hospital and patient needs. 

But the inventory has a shelf life — a year for frozen plasma, 42 days for red blood cells and five days for platelets — so it takes some work to ensure supply continues to meet demand. 

Smith said the blood agency has made some changes in anticipation of an increased need, including extending hours at some donation centres and mobile clinics, but many pandemic safety precautions remain in place, including limiting the number of donors allowed inside at one time.

“We’re only accepting appointments from donors. We’re not accepting walk-ins in order to manage our physical distancing,” Smith said. “It’s more important for donors to fill the appointments for us.”

Smith couldn’t say how much the demand for blood has increased in the last six weeks, but she said the need is evident in supplies of O negative blood, the universal blood type used primarily in emergency rooms.

“We have just over four days supply and at times it’s dipped to between three and 3 1/2,” she said. “That gives you an indication of the increase in demand that we’ve seen.”

A Calgary vascular and trauma surgeon said operating rooms have been a lot busier in the last six weeks.

“There’s certainly no slowdowns. It’s more in the other direction trying to catch up,” said Dr. Paul Cantle.

“At certain times of the year, (blood supply) is always a concern, but very few of us have ever run into a situation where we haven’t had what we’ve needed at the end of the day.”

Cantle said people go out more in the summer, drive more on highways and spent more time in physical activity, so it’s not a surprise blood demand has gone up.

“It was inevitable. People just try and get out there and enjoy their summers: getting out on their ATVs and their horses and their mountain bikes,” he said.

“It’s the same every year, but it’s maybe just a little more extreme this year with people trying to make up for lost time.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 29, 2021.

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

UCP backbencher fined $15K by Elections Alberta for funding violations

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EDMONTON — A United Conservative backbencher has been fined $15,000 by Elections Alberta for a variety of offences including filing false financial statements.

Devinder Toor, the legislature member for Calgary Falconridge, was penalized for fundraising and spending infractions both as a candidate for the party nomination and well as in the 2019 election.

The 10 violations also include exceeding expense limits and accepting a prohibited contribution from a numbered company of which Toor had been a director.

Toor, a first-time MLA, won the constituency seat by just 91 votes over the rival NDP.

The NDP,  in a news release, called on Toor to resign, saying the infractions display a conscious effort to circumvent the rules and call into question his integrity and fitness for public office.

Toor could not be immediately reached for comment. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 28, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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