Frustration mounts over pace of Alberta COVID-19 vaccinations

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Alarm and frustration is building over what some say is the slow pace of COVID-19 vaccinations in Alberta.

Two weeks ago, Health Minister Tyler Shandro said 29,000 doses of vaccine would be administered to front-line health care workers and long term care residents by the end of the year.

But on Monday, only 6,016 Albertans had received the vaccine, said Alberta Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw, who noted the shots weren’t provided Christmas Day and won’t be on New Year’s Day.

A week ago, Shandro said the province had received more than 29,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses since Dec. 14 and described their roll-out as “off to a strong start.”

But some in the medical community say they’re troubled by the speed of those vaccinations, with about 20 per cent of the year-end goal reached so far.

“It is crickets from the province. Early phase 1 was supposed to be finished this week,” Dr. Yael Moussadji, a member of the Calgary Zone physician vaccine task force tweeted Tuesday morning.

“So many of us are waiting anxiously. There is no reason we should not already have had the rest of wave 1 booked and ready to roll.”

Calgary and Edmonton are to each receive 6,825 of those doses, Premier Jason Kenney said last week.

Physicians across the country say when it comes to vaccinations, time is of the essence in reducing the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

In another tweet, Tom Sampson, who recently stepped down as head of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency echoed those concerns.

“Vaccine in storage is a shame – mass vaccination strategy required,” he said.

“No stock should sit in the community for more than 24 hours. Come on folks, you have front-line providers sweating it out to care for people.”

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