Albertans aged 75 and older can now book their vaccination appointment at more than 100 participating pharmacies in Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary. This is in addition to the phone (811) and online booking tool for appointments at 58 Alberta Health Services (AHS) sites around the province.
In the first week of widespread vaccine rollout, seniors have been dealing with long line ups for scheduled appointments and continued difficulties getting through to the online booking tool.
"Some individuals are arriving at appointments 30 to 60 minutes in advance, and as a result, wait lines are forming outside the facilities. We ask that all clients wait in their cars until five minutes before their appointment and not arrive more than 10 minutes early," said Health Minister Tyler Shandro, adding that AHS has increased network capacity and staff for booking appointments.
“Combined with the 28,000 seniors in long-term care already vaccinated, well over half of Alberta’s 75-plus population is already vaccinated or booked to receive the vaccine."
"I definitely will get the shot, and my husband Al (84) will too," said Jan Davey, an 81 year-old resident of an independent living facility in west Edmonton. "It's extremely important to us--I can't wait to see my grandchildren."
Alberta Health says the number of pharmacies offering the vaccine is currently limited due to supply and requirements around storage and handling of the vaccine. Participating pharmacies were chosen based on geographic and population needs, as well as their demonstrated experience with immunizations (those who've been giving flu shots in past).
Albertans are encouraged to have both doses of vaccine provided at the same location. A list of participating pharmacies is available at ab.bluecross.ca
For those age 75 and older who cannot access a community pharmacy, AHS will continue to book vaccination appointments through the online booking tool.
Seniors can book their vaccine online at alberta.ca or by calling 811. Seniors can get help from family or friend in booking their appointments online--all that is needed at that time is their Alberta Health Card number. At the appointment, seniors will need to present their health card and government-issued photo ID.
AHS said seniors will be directed to vaccination clinics that are closest to where they live. For isolated seniors, those with mobility challenges or those having no means of getting to a vaccination appointment, help is available.
"Once a vaccination appointment is booked, call 211 for a referral to a local transportation provider," said Josephine Pon, Minister of Seniors and Housing.
Seniors living in congregate settings are being offered the vaccine too. Those living in retirement centres, lodges, supportive living and other facilities with residents aged 75 or older will have appointments arranged directly through that facility.
AHS said that in sites where eligible seniors interact with residents younger than 75, health officials will offer the vaccine to everyone living in the facility in order to reduce the overall risk of disease transmission. That is not the case for seniors over 75 living on their own with a spouse younger than 75. Currently, the spouse would not be eligible to receive the vaccine.
“We know that age is the greatest determining factor in whether someone may experience severe outcomes due to COVID-19," said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health. "Vaccines are safe and effective. Now that it is your turn, please arrange to be immunized to protect yourselves and those around you.”
As of Feb. 25, 100,000 Alberta seniors over the age of 75 are now booked to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. An additional 22,000 seniors who reside in congregate care are also booked, with thousands more booked for appointments at pharmacies.
Overall, over 180,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in the province. To date, some almost 74,000 Albertans have been fully-immunized with two doses of vaccine.