Alberta rolls out second-dose COVID-19 vaccine plan, bookings begin immediately

Alberta's new COVID-19 cases dropped by more than 40 per cent in a week

With 63.4 per cent of Albertans having already received their first doses, Premier Jason Kenney announced that second-dose appointments are being opened up.

Those that received the AstraZeneca vaccine will have the choice to book a second AstraZeneca dose or choose the mRNA vaccine for their second dose.

"This is the start of opening Alberta for summer and getting Alberta back to normal", said Kenney.

Anyone vaccinated in March or earlier can book their second dose starting (today) June 1. Some people prefer sticking with AZ for both doses, and that option has been "retained", said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro encouraged those who received their first dose in April or May to wait until it's their turn to book their second appointment.

"If there are no unexpected delays to (vaccine) shipments, we expect most everyone awaiting their second dose should have it by the end of summer".

Alberta also reported 209 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.

A week ago, active cases were 43 per cent higher across the province.

Preliminary data on the effects vaccines have had on active case counts and hospitalization numbers would be released next week, according to Hinshaw.

Almost all restrictions can be removed two weeks after 70 per cent of Albertans over the age of 12 have one dose of vaccine. She added the eight-week waiting period for AstraZeneca "gives a better overall protection than getting a second dose sooner than that".

Nearly all of the public health regulations are expected to be rescinded by early July.Hinshaw has said Alberta's reopening plan will succeed as long as Albertans continue to exercise caution, physically distance, mask-up and get their vaccinations as soon as possible. The lowest daily case count reported between the second and third waves was 221 on February 8.

"While the interval between first and second doses will start at 12 weeks, Alberta will now be able to offer second-dose appointments at progressively earlier intervals, provided vaccine supply remains stable", the Alberta government said.

"While the variants are concerning, we are also seeing cases decline sharply, which is positive and increases our ability to identify cases and act quickly to prevent broader transmission", said McMillan.

The new cases reported Tuesday came from 4,100 tests for a positivity rate of about five per cent. "Even against these variants, we know they prevent severe outcomes like hospitalizations and death", said Kenney.

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