Alberta is going to run out of COVID-19 vaccine early this week due to a shipment delay from Pfizer.
On Monday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced the province will run out of vaccine on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning, resulting in the province temporarily halting giving out more first doses of the vaccine.
“By the end of the day, or early tomorrow, Albertans will have no more vaccine doses in storage to administer as first doses to Albertans,” Kenney said.
“We have quite simply run out of supply.”
So far, the province has given out almost 90,000 doses since vaccinations started on Dec. 15, but now the province will be halting any more first-dose appointments.
Kenney said the second doses will continue as planned.
“Second dose appointments will not be cancelled,” Kenney said.
“We believe we can administer second doses to all those who need them within the recommended time frame.”
On Friday, Canadians learned doses of Pfizer vaccine would be reduced for several weeks due to the Pfizer vaccine manufacturing facility scaling up, which will result in a short period of shutdown on the vaccine supply. All countries that receive vaccines from the European facility will be facing the same delay.
Tyler Shandro, Alberta minister of health, said Friday that Canada will only receive 20 per cent of the previously expected Pfizer vaccine this week, followed by a reduction of 80 per cent for one week and 50 per cent in the two weeks after.
Shandro said this will force delays in getting the vaccine out ot Albertans.
“This is unfortunate news and we are all disappointed. However, we will not stop,” Shandro said.
Shandro said the delay will slow down the immunization process of priority health care workers in Phase 1 of the vaccine roll-out plan, along with seniors over the age of 75 and all Indigenous seniors living on reserve over the of 65.
Kenney said by Monday seniors in all of Alberta’s 375 long-term care and designated supported living facilities had received their first round of vaccinations, but further vaccinations of Phase 1 groups will be delayed.
“This means the planned vaccination of First Nations and Métis individuals over the age of 65, and seniors broadly over the age of 75, has been put on hold,” Kenney said.
The province had hoped to start vaccinations of priority seniors next week.
Shandro said the province is going to continue to increase vaccine capacity, including staff and locations, across the province so the sites are ready to hit the ground running when the vaccine shipments come in. By the end of January, the province will be prepared to hand out 50,000 doses a week, if not more, Shandro said.
According to the federal government, the most profound impact on the supply will be during the week of Jan. 25, where it is expected to drop by 80 per cent. The vaccine creation will scale back up in the first two weeks of February and then return to what was expected after that.
By Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / St. Albert Gazette