Alberta lowers AstraZeneca, J&J age eligibility to 30 in Fort McMurray, Banff regions
EDMONTON -- Albertans 30 and older who live in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Banff will soon be eligible to get the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Fort McMurray and Banff have two of the highest case rates per 100,000 residents in the province with 1,516 and 1,174, respectively.
The province expects to receive approximately 30,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week.
Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro also announced Alberta Health Services would administer the Moderna vaccine to people at least 30 years old in adjacent Indigenous communities.
On Sunday, Fort McMurray shifted all K-12 students to online learning and Wood Buffalo declared a public state of emergency as COVID-19 cases spiked.
The region's mayor, Don Scott, has been in touch with Kenney and met with Shandro and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Tuesday.
He asked them for more vaccines, rapid testing at airports and mobile clinics.
After Premier Kenney's announcement on Wednesday, Scott told CTV News Edmonton he was extremely pleased with the provincial government.
"This is a very positive development. I would say it's a step in the right direction," Scott added.
"We asked for help, they're delivering it."
Both Kenney and Scott emphasized the need to encourage residents in the COVID-19 hot spot to take the vaccine.
"As I've mentioned before," the premier said, "we have seen a significant number of vaccine doses going unused and that's why a decision has been made to extend vaccine hours to 10 p.m. in Fort McMurray and to continue to work with the community to make sure that there is high uptake with those life-saving vaccines."
He added Alberta is actively considering more measures for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
In addition to the Johnson & Johnson delivery, Kenney said Alberta is expecting 236,000 Pfizer doses in each of the next two weeks, as well as a total of 117,000 Moderna doses.
There are approximately 59,000 AstraZeneca doses left, he added, and it is unclear when Alberta will receive another shipment.
Kenney, however, is hopeful about Alberta's immunization prospects with the Pfizer shipments scheduled for the coming weeks.
"I actually think that in the month of May, we may be able inoculate with the first dose upwards of 700,000 people and that will be a game changer."