If you've had a COVID-19 vaccine within that last two weeks, the owners of a family-run pet store in Lac La Biche would prefer if you didn't go into their business.
Instead, the signs on the front door and street-facing window of Lac La Biche's The Pet & Farm Supply tell anyone who has had a recent vaccination to utilize their curbside pickup. The store signs also point out that some of their staff are "exempt from wearing a mask."
"It's not that you can't come in," said a staff member who answered the store's phone on Friday afternoon, "but we are asking people who have had the vaccine, especially if they have symptoms, to use our curbside pickup."
Saying it was policy, the employee said the decision is a way to best protect their staff and customers from something she called 'shedding.'
When asked what it was, she said the information was on a "government health website" and could easily be found.
While 'shedding' is an actual medical effect of some vaccinations, where the active virus or components of the vaccine could be released or discharged from a person, online references from accredited health organizations say it cannot happen with any of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use. According to officials with Alberta Health Services, shedding is a possible effect from injections using weakened or "live" viruses in inoculations — but none of the COVID-19 vaccinations use weakened antigens. Much of the online information in relation to shedding and the recent COVID-19 vaccines is found on websites debunking conspiracy theories.
"There is no possibility of viral shedding from any of the COVID-19 vaccines used in Alberta."
-Logan Clow — Alberta Health Services
According to the American-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an example of a current vaccine that contains a weakened version of a virus is the measles vaccine. Once thought to be completely eliminated, cases of the measles have been on the rise in recent years, coinciding with a similar rise in anti-vaccine sentiment. Vaccines for measles contain a weakened or attenuated vaccine. Similar attenuated vaccines include mumps, rubella, yellow fever and polio. Vaccines with weakened or live antigens usually require only one dose. Inactivated vaccines, like the ones distributed for COVID-19, cannot replicate and generally require multiple doses.
Contacted by the Lac La Biche POST on Friday, provincial health professionals reinforce that shedding cannot happen with the current COVID-19 vaccinations provided for Albertans.
"Vaccine shedding can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus. None of the vaccines authorized for use in Canada contain a live virus," said Alberta Health Services spokesperson Logan Clow, clarifying the issue, and challenging the local signage.
Explaining that vaccines are a critical way to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, he said the best way to protect families, neighbours and communities is to get vaccinated.
"They are effective and safe. Immunization protects your health, as well as the health of your loved ones and the community," said Clow. "We encourage Albertans to book their COVID-19 immunization appointment as soon as they are eligible."
Vaccines currently approved for use in Canada are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) and AstraZeneca / Covishield.
More information from AHS about COVID-19 vaccines can be found at the AHS COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ webpage.
Lakeland under 50 per cent
Across the Lakeland region, the number of residents getting their COVID-19 vaccines continues to rise, but has yet to reach 50 per cent. According to weekend statistics, 43.4 percent of residents in the Lac La Biche region have had at least one vaccine dose. In the Bonnyville region, 39.4 per cent of residents have had at least one dose. The St. Paul area is reporting 39.2 per cent of its residents have had at least one dose, and the percentage in the Cold Lake area is at 43.5.
The provincial statistics show that 55.6 percent of Albertans have received at least one of the 2.5 million vaccine doses distributed.
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