55K pediatric COVID-19 vaccines booked, Alberta’s full supply now here

Alberta’s full procurement of pediatric COVID-19 vaccine has arrived, Health Secretary Jason Copping tweeted Thursday morning.

Supply started arriving Tuesday morning and the first doses will be administered Friday morning.

(Click here for Thursday’s COVID-19 issues.)

By 9:00 am on Thursday, just over 55,000 appointments had been booked.

“That’s great,” said Sarah Mackey of Vax Hunters Alberta. “That’s a lot of kids who will get that first dose before the holidays hit.”

Mackey and her team had gotten up early Wednesday to help parents find vaccine appointments and said the day started off a “little bumpy.”

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Parents in Alberta can make an appointment on Wednesday to vaccinate against COVID-19 for children aged 5-11

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There were a few pharmacies on the list of places to book that they knew would not be offering the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine and parents were booking at those pharmacies.

Other than that, Mackey said the day went much more smoothly than when vaccines were opened to everyone 12 years and older in the spring.

The Calgary zone led the province with the most booked appointments with 26,710. The Edmonton zone had 21,206 appointments booked, 2,668 booked in the North zone, 2,468 booked in the South zone and the Central zone had the fewest appointments booked with 1,980.

According to the 2020 census data, this means that about 18 percent of eligible children in the Calgary zone have an appointment, about 17 percent in the Edmonton zone, the southern zone about 8.5 percent, and the northern and central zones between the five and six percent, according to Mackey

“That’s not surprising,” she said. We knew it was going to look like this where it would definitely be concentrated in the cities. Hopefully we will see that number steadily increase.”

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In Alberta, pediatric COVID-19 vaccine doses are administered at Alberta Health Services clinics. Community pharmacies are only used if there is no clinic nearby.

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Mackey hopes the county will move to community pop-ups aimed at outreach in areas with slower uptake, such as in the spring.

“There aren’t that many locations right now and that’s great for reducing waste, but it also makes it harder for people to access,” she said.

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Mackey also encourages parents and guardians to share with other people that their children are booked for their vaccines and to talk about how excited the families are.

“I think a lot of people don’t know or think, ‘Well, we’ll see how it goes.’

“So the more people we can see in our own communities and our own connections getting their kids vaccinated, the more it will normalize for it to happen.”

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Children were able to receive the pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine after Health Canada approved it on Nov. 19.

The vaccine requires two doses of 10 micrograms each for children aged five to 11 – a third of the adult dose. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that the two doses be eight weeks apart.

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Alberta’s health director, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, advises parents to wait two weeks between other vaccines – such as the flu vaccine – and the COVID-19 vaccine.

“This is a precautionary measure,” she said Tuesday. “While we have seen older age groups use other vaccines containing the COVID vaccine, this was safe and effective, but this distance for 5-11 year olds is recommended to allow us to better monitor for potential adverse effects.”

In a statement to Global News, an Alberta Health spokesperson reiterated that the advice is a recommendation, not a requirement.

“Routine school immunizations can be administered regardless of the distance between the COVID-19 vaccine, because both school immunizations and COVID immunizations are important and the 14-day distance could be a barrier that prevents children from getting vaccines,” said Michael Francouer.

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“If an individual presents to a clinic or other immunizer, individuals should not be turned away for receiving more than one vaccine on the same day or if they are within the 14 day period between the COVID-19 vaccine and another vaccine.”

Parents and guardians can make an appointment for their child’s COVID-19 vaccine online or by calling 811.

Thursday’s COVID-19 numbers

On Thursday afternoon, Alberta Health reported that 379 more cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of active cases to 4,969.

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The province conducted 9,604 tests. Thursday’s positivity rate had not yet been posted online at the time of publication.

The Calgary zone still has the highest number of active cases with 1,880. There were 1,119 in the Edmonton zone, 837 in the North zone, 712 in the Central zone, and 413 in the South zone.

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There were eight active cases that were not assigned to a specific zone.

On Thursday, 465 Albertans were hospitalized with COVID-19, 98 of whom were treated in ICUs.

One more death has been reported in the province in the past 24 hours. There are now 3,232 COVID-19 deaths in Alberta since the start of the pandemic.

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As of Thursday’s update, 88.5 percent of eligible Albertans ages 12 and older had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Of the same group, 83.5 percent were fully vaccinated.

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Since the start of the pandemic, 333,847 Albertans have contracted COVID-19 while 325,646 have recovered.

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