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Second Alberta health care worker dies of COVID-19

While the province's death toll keep growing, the government is attempting to vaccinate as many Albertans as possible. On Tuesday, Shandro defended the speed of the vaccinations and said 26,269 people had been vaccinated as of Monday. 
Tyler Shandro
Health Minister Tyler Shandro. GOVERNMENT OF ALBERTA/Photo

A day after the province announced it had lost its first health care worker to COVID-19, a second death has been reported.

On Tuesday, Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro announced the death of a second health care worker, a woman in her 50s working in the Edmonton zone.

The news came one day after the news that Joe (Jing) Corral, a Filipino Canadian who worked as a health-care aide at Bethany Riverview long-term care home, died from COVID-19 on Dec. 28 at the age of 61.

While the province's death toll keep growing, the government is attempting to vaccinate as many Albertans as possible. On Tuesday, Shandro defended the speed of the vaccinations and said 26,269 people had been vaccinated as of Monday. 

With more than 56 per cent of vaccine doses in stock administered, Alberta is 61 per cent above the national average, the province said in a news release. 

"They're on track to do another 3,000 today," Shandro said on Tuesday

"That means by the end of today, we should be at about 29,000, the initial goal that we set in mid-December. It was an aggressive goal and we're getting there only a few days later than we had hoped, in spite of the need to plan around delivery times and amounts that are consistently and constantly shifting."

More vaccines were expected to arrive on Tuesday and the province is distributing them as fast as they can, Shandro said. 

"We were on a bad course in December but we changed it," Shandro said.

Addressing accusations of wasted vaccines, Shandro and chief medical officer of health Deena Hinshaw issued a joint statement Tuesday morning to correct misinformation they saw circulating online.

“Doses are thawed and prepared according to pre-scheduled appointments, and appointments are overbooked to ensure that enough health-care workers are always in line. If a scenario arises where staff have no booked appointments left but there are thawed doses available, those administering the vaccines are able to vaccinate each other. The vaccine cannot be re-frozen or put in a fridge,"the statement read. 

“However, that does not mean that some wastage will not occur. In all large-scale immunization programs, a minimal amount of vaccine will be lost when drawing doses or if a vial is dropped or spilled."

The statement said the amount lost can be upsetting but is unavoidable. 

"It is also extremely limited thanks to the processes in place. In fact, the COVID-19 immunization program to date has had significantly less wastage per administered dose than what occurs in a typical influenza immunization program. In fact, wastage in the COVID-19 vaccine program is at 0.3 per cent, and typical immunization programs can see wastage around 6 per cent."


Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Jennifer Henderson is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for Great West Newspapers based in St. Albert, Alta.
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