'We don't want to die': Local doctors write letter pleading for COVID-19 vaccine
Dr. Jane Kachope wrote a letter to premier Jason Kenney asking GPs be given COVID-19 vaccines.
EDMONTON -- A group of Edmonton doctors have written a letter to the premier asking for general practitioners (GPs) in Alberta to get access to COVID-19 vaccines immediately.
The letter reads, in part, "We expected at least from our government like everywhere in the world for us to be among the first people to receive the vaccine but we unfortunately have not heard a word about it."
It points out that GPs and their support teams worked through the lockdown and continue to see patients.
"We felt at that time as people rightfully were running from bullets, we were running towards them and have continued to," it states.
The letter was written by Dr. Jane Kachope and signed by seven other doctors who work at Zoe Medical Centre in northeast Edmonton.
"We don't want to die when there's prevention," Kachope told CTV News Edmonton Friday.
RISK TO GENERAL PRACTITIONERS
Kachope said most Alberta GPs see an average of 30 patients a day, five days a week.
"With the level of COVID infection in the community, can one say we are not exposed? Out of all of those patients a day? In a week?" she asked. "We certainly are."
Kachope – who wears a mask, face shield and gown to work – credits personal protective equipment for keeping her safe.
She said since the pandemic started, she's seen plenty of patients with COVID-19 who didn't know it.
"We are the frontline people who see undiagnosed anything and COVID comes in all sorts of forms," she said. "You ask them to take a COVID test and they come out positive."
The province announced Friday it's starting Phase 2 (Group A) of its vaccine rollout March 15.
Residents born from 1947 to 1956, Indigenous Albertans, and seniors and staff who live and work in licensed supportive living facilities – not included in Phase 1 – will be eligible.
Alberta Health officials confirmed GPs will get access during Phase 2 (Group C).
The timeline on the AHS website states Group C is expected to get vaccinated sometime between April and June.
"It's rather embarrassing. We have colleagues all over the world and all of them are saying, 'What do you mean you haven't been immunized?'" said Kachope.
"We have colleagues even in third world countries, they all have been vaccinated because the people there realize that these people are at risk."
RESPONSE TO LETTER
When asked for comment Friday, an official from the health ministry directed CTV News Edmonton to a tweet thread from the health minister.
They also sent a statement that reads, in part, "Unfortunately due to the limited vaccine supply that is available in Alberta, we must continue to target individuals who are most at risk of severe outcomes first, such as seniors and residents of long term care and designated supported living."
The statement said GPs do "important work every day" and that's why they, and their clinical staff, will be eligible during Phase 2, Group C.