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Editorial: Vaccine shortages

Our newsroom was pleased to see the Alberta government has expanded its current eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines to include Emergency Medical Services responders and paramedics.

Our newsroom was pleased to see the Alberta government expand its current eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines to include Emergency Medical Services responders and paramedics. However, our concern has risen about the slow start to the Alberta government’s vaccine distribution plan and the likelihood of reaching the Province’s targets for inoculations in the coming months. 

As of Jan. 11, a little more than 52,000 doses have been administered in Alberta, according to government statements, while an average of 3,800 shots have been provided daily this month, as of that date. Though this may initially sound promising, crunching the numbers shows the province is lagging behind its targets.

At a press conference on Jan. 11, Premier Jason Kenney said the Alberta government’s goal is to vaccinate 50,000 people per week by the end of this month and 200,000 per week by the end of March. The government hopes to vaccinate the general public by the summer.

If the Province’s current daily pace of fewer than 4,000 daily immunizations is maintained, well below a million Albertans will be vaccinated by June 30. With Alberta’s population of nearly 4.5 million, this projection can feel like the end of the pandemic is still very far away.

Making matters difficult is Alberta’s availability of the vaccine. During the Jan. 11 press conference, Kenney addressed his concerns about the province’s dwindling supply of doses, adding he expects shortages to be an issue until the end of March. He said that more than 75 per cent of the doses sent to Alberta by the federal government to date have already been given out.

The data seem bleak; a federal government web page that tracks COVID-19 vaccine shipments to each province indicates only 301,275 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will have been sent to Alberta by the end of February, while 85,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine will have arrived here during the same time period.

Let’s hope both supply and inoculations pick up after that.