Sluggish vaccine demand could put Alberta’s 3rd stage of reopening in jeopardy: Kenney

While Alberta is on track to shift into Stage 2 of the Open for Summer plan, dwindling demand for first doses of COVID-19 vaccines could put the full reopening in jeopardy, according to the premier.

Jason Kenney confirmed Tuesday that Alberta will move to Stage 2 on Thursday, as the province has far fewer than 500 COVID-19 hospitalizations and is well past the benchmark of 67 per cent of eligible Albertans having received a first dose of vaccine.

Read more: Kenney outlines Alberta’s reopening plan for summer

Kenney said as of Monday, first-dose vaccinations is at about 67 per cent among those aged 12 and older, however, demand for those first jabs is taking a dive.

“We have only 100,000 bookings over the next seven days and for us to reach the 70 per cent threshold that will trigger our full Open for Summer plan two weeks after, we need about 115,000 more people to get their first dose of the vaccine,” he said.

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“So we’re getting to that critical point right now where every additional person who decides to get the first dose is going to be able to accelerate the full openness of Alberta.

All Albertans born in 2009 or before are eligible for their first dose and the rollout of second doses is also underway.

“If you’ve been holding back for one reason or another, now is the time, over the next week, to get the jab so we can move forward more quickly with the full Open for Summer plan.”

Kenney also assured businesses and Albertans that the Open for Summer plan is not just for summer — it’s the province’s plan “to be open for good.”

Read more: Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout failing most vulnerable populations: doctors

He said “the virus will continue to circulate” and anticipates a fall spike based on weather, seasonality and variants, which he believes will continue to circulate.

“But the key thing is just growing that protection of our population through the vaccines and we are very confident that by the time we get into the fall, by the time that we will be approaching 80 per cent both first and second dose coverage in our population and we’ll be able to maintain that freedom.”

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Click to play video: 'Drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic opens in Calgary June 7' Drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic opens in Calgary June 7

Drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic opens in Calgary June 7

Kenney said there were 163 new COVID-19 infections recorded on Sunday night: the lowest single-day case count in nine months in Alberta.

Active cases also remain below 5,000 — at roughly 4,700 — according to the premier.

Read more: Alberta releases plan for booking 2nd doses of COVID-19 vaccines

There were 351 people in hospital as of Sunday night, Kenney said, with fewer than 100 being treated in ICUs.

The remaining daily COVID-19 data from the province will be released at 3:30 p.m. on Monday. This story will be updated once that information is available.

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