CALGARY — Across the country, provinces are trying to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to health care workers, and those residents in long-term care homes, but some officials say doses are piling up and remain in freezers rather than being administered.
“We need these vaccines in people’s arms and we need them quickly,” said Dr. Hassan Masri, University of Saskatchewan.
“More creative solutions (are needed), whether it is the involvement of paramedics or the army, but certainly having 20 to 30 per cent of the vaccines in fridges is not acceptable.”
Alberta Health Services says it is ‘rapidly immunizing’ people ‘as quickly as possible.’
“If and when we have an appointment cancellation, we administer the allocated dose to the next person in line,” read a statement from AHS spokesperson James Wood.
“Any currently unused doses are going to be administered to eligible Albertans in the coming days.
“In all immunization programs there is usually some degree of vaccine wastage. That is expected, but usually minimal. There currently has been not wastage significant enough to report.”
As of Jan. 3, the province had inoculated 22,861 people, drastically missing its target of 29,000 by the end of 2020.
Alberta has received more than 46,000 doses from Moderna and Pfizer so far.
Alberta is currently in its first phase of vaccinations, which began in December and includes health care workers and staff in long-term care centres.
Phase 1A is slated to beging this month and will include:
- Respiratory therapists;
- Health-care workers in intensive care units;
- Staff in long-term care and designated supportive living facilities;
- Home care workers;
- Health-care workers in emergency departments, and;
- Residents of long-term care and designated supportive living, regardless of age.
Phase 1B is slated to begin in February (timeline is subject to change depending on vaccine supply) which will include:
- Seniors 75 years of age and over, no matter where they live;
- First Nations, Métis and persons 65 years of age and over living in a First Nations community or Metis settlement, and;
- Health-care workers in medical, surgical and COVID-19 units or operating rooms.
Phase 2 will run from April to September, targeting populations at risk.
Work to identify sequencing for Phase 2 groups is underway. Decisions are expected in February.
Phase 3 will begin in the fall and will be for the general public.