Alberta explores ‘targeted school clinic’ option for COVID-19 vaccination

CALGARY — As the number of Albertans who are accessing their first COVID-19 shots is slowing down, the province says it is considering other ways to provide access to vaccine supplies, including bringing them into school settings.

According to the province’s website, approximately 32,000 doses of vaccine were administered on June 8, significantly less than half of the number of doses delivered on the province’s busiest day for immunization.

On May 20, more than 80,000 doses were given out.

The province say it’s aware that the rate of first doses is slowing in all age groups and it’s taking steps to address the issue.

“We’re actively working to address areas where vaccine uptake is slower or obstacles are impacting some people’s ability to get the vaccine,” said Tom McMillan, assistant director of communications with Alberta Health, in an email.

Some of those options do include setting up vaccination clinics inside schools, similar to the program that delivers the HPV vaccine to Grade 6 students.

“We’ve created temporary clinics at meatpacking plants, shelters, and work camps,” McMillan said. “We are exploring whether there are areas with lower vaccine rates where a targeted school clinic is needed and the most effective way to offer these vaccines.”

HINSHAW WRITES LETTER TO ALBERTA PARENTS

A letter sent home to parents in the Rocky View School Division from Alberta’s top doctor on June 8 attempts to answer a variety of questions many have about the vaccines.

“I am writing to share information with you about these vaccines,” wrote Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw. “Over the past months, I have heard questions from parents about the COVID-19 vaccines and, as a parent myself, I understand that you want to make an informed choice to keep your families safe.”

Hinshaw goes on to say the vaccines at Alberta’s disposal are safe and effective, even against variant strains. They are also available to all residents born in 2009 or earlier, but not recommended for younger children.

“There are studies happening now for children under 12 to measure how the vaccine works and to look for any side effects in this age group,” she said. “Until we have that information, possibly by this fall, adults and older children can help protect younger children from the virus by getting their COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they can.”

When it comes to younger age brackets, the province says 52.1 per cent of Albertans between 12 and 14 years old have received at least one dose and 57.2 per cent of 15 to 19-year-olds have received at least one dose.

‘VACCINES ARE BRINGING HOPE’

Hinshaw also took the time to reassure parents who remain concerned about the safety of vaccines, encouraging them to do their research and learn more about how they have helped in the fight against the pandemic.

“It is not possible to get COVID-19 from a vaccine. It is common for people to have a sore arm and feel a bit tired for a day or two after getting a vaccine, sometimes with a fever or aches.”

She said that health-care providers are prepared to help those who experience “more serious” side effects as well.

Calgary, classroom, schools, pandemic

However, one of the main benefits of getting vaccinated, Hinshaw says, is the ability to return to normal. She says if Albertans do whatever they can to seek vaccination, we will be able to protect ourselves and those around us from infection.

“That means in the next few months, we will no longer need strict public health measures to stop the spread of the virus,” she said.

“Vaccines are bringing hope and that is made stronger by all of us working together.”

No decisions about in-school vaccination programs have been made and the province says it will keep Albertans informed of any developments.

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