EDMONTON -- On the day Health Canada approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Alberta’s health minister said the province would begin to immunize health-care workers in exactly one week.

Tyler Shandro said Alberta Health Services will vaccinate 3,900 ICU doctors and nurses, respiratory therapists and other workers at the University of Alberta Hospital and Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton and the Peter Lougheed Centre and the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary.

“These staff are exhausted and have put themselves at risk for 10 months,” the health minister said.

Right now, Pfizer says its ultra-cold vaccine must be administered out of its delivery sites, so seniors will not be immunized in the first round.

There is one delivery site in Edmonton and one in Calgary, with more to come.

“But we hope that by covering the staff, we’ll start reducing the risk to patients and residents and we’ll immediately reduce the burden and risk for staff,” Shandro said.

Albertans will receive two doses, approximately one month apart. The province is working with the federal government to receive another shipment by the end of the month.


Alberta Health reported 1,460 COVID-19 cases after 16,792 tests — the smallest one-day case increase since Dec. 1 — and 15 deaths.

Active cases, now at 20,199, decreased by 189 infections, marking the first decline since Nov. 18.

Hospitalizations continued to increase on Wednesday, however, with 121 of Alberta’s 685 COVID-19 patients being care for in ICU.


On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney banned indoor and outdoor gatherings, closed in-person services at restaurants, bars and cafes, reduced retail and mall capacity to 15 per cent and implemented an indoor mask bylaw provincewide.

The gathering restrictions became effective Tuesday but the rest will come online Sunday at 12:01 a.m. and be in place for at least four weeks.