Preparing for COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Alberta
Alberta’s government is fully prepared to receive and distribute COVID-19 vaccines and up to 435,000 Albertans will be offered a vaccine in the first quarter of 2021.
Planning and preparation is well-advanced. Alberta is in a prime position to implement a phased immunization program as soon as vaccines become available.
To support this ongoing work, the Alberta government has appointed a new COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force. Chaired by the deputy minister of Municipal Affairs, retired Lt.-Gen. Paul Wynnyk, the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force will build on the steps that Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services have already taken to prepare for the delivery of a vaccine.
“Alberta is ready to roll out a life-saving vaccine from Day 1. We have a well-developed plan, that begins with vaccinating the most vulnerable. Our efforts will be led by the former commander of the Canadian Army, with input from top public health experts.”Jason Kenney, Premier
The task force will oversee the implementation of the province’s immunization delivery program to ensure the ethical, timely and effective distribution of vaccines across Alberta.
“We have implemented strong, targeted measures necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19, while planning for the availability of a safe and effective vaccine once it is ready. This new task force will build off the extensive work that health officials have done to ensure that Albertans get immunized as quickly as possible, once a vaccine is available.”Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health
Currently, no COVID-19 vaccines are approved by Health Canada. Once approved, Alberta anticipates receiving enough doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to initially immunize up to 435,000 Albertans who are most at-risk, between January and March 2021.
“We will do everything possible to ensure that once the vaccine is available in Alberta, it will be distributed as rapidly and efficiently as possible. We are assigning a multidisciplinary team, drawn from across the public service, to focus exclusively on this issue.”Paul Wynnyk, chair, COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force
Immunization will be phased, starting with Phase 1 in early January, once vaccines are received. Those vaccinated in Phase 1 include long-term care and designated supported living residents and staff in those facilities, on-reserve First Nations individuals over age 65, seniors aged 75 and older, and health-care workers most needed to ensure workforce capacity and who are most likely to transmit COVID-19 to those at greatest risk.
Phase 2 is expected to begin by April 2021 and will again be targeted to prioritized populations. Phase 3 will involve rolling out vaccinations to the general Alberta population, anticipated to start by fall 2021.
In the early stages of the pandemic, the Provincial Operations Centre, under the leadership of Wynnyk, was part of a successful partnership with Alberta Health Services to procure and distribute masks, gowns, gloves and face shields amid a global rush for personal protective equipment (PPE).
The COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force members will include cross-government expertise in operations and logistics, federal-provincial relations, health and clinical domains, public health and immunization, ethics and information technology and data.
- Alberta has worked closely with the federal government and other provinces and territories to procure COVID-19 vaccines since the pandemic began.
- There are currently no COVID-19 vaccines approved by Health Canada.
- At this time, Alberta has been allocated doses of two vaccines, which are expected to start arriving early in 2021 if approved by Health Canada.
- Alberta expects to receive doses of a Pfizer vaccine starting in early 2021, followed by doses of Moderna vaccine.
- Exact amounts and timelines are still being finalized.
- Both vaccines are expected to arrive in multiple shipments throughout the first quarter of 2021.
- Additional shipments of vaccine are expected later in 2021 as global production increases.