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The immunizations mark the start of Alberta’s rollout of a third vaccine that promises to accelerate timelines for inoculations across the province

The immunizations mark the start of Alberta’s rollout of a third vaccine that promises to accelerate timelines for inoculations across the province
Calgarians enter a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Genesis Centre in northeast Calgary on Thursday, March 11, 2021. Media access was denied by Alberta Health Services as it has been in Alberta since vaccinations began.Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia
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Nurses administered the first doses of AstraZeneca vaccine into the arms of Albertans on Thursday morning.
The immunizations mark the start of Albertas rollout of a third vaccine that promises to accelerate timelines for inoculations across the province.
Sign-ups for the AstraZeneca shot began Wednesday morning for Albertans with no severe illness born in 1957, and for First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) individuals born in 1972. On Thursday, eligibility further expanded to those born in 1958 and 1973, respectively.
By 5 p.m. Thursday, more than 24,000 Albertans in those groups had booked their appointments to receive an AstraZeneca shot.
Eligibility for the vaccine will expand even more quickly than previously planned Friday, as two more birth years will be eligible to sign up for shots starting at 8 a.m.
Those born in 1959 and 1960 will be able to book appointments for immunization with AstraZeneca. Similarly, FNMI people born in 1974 and 1975 will be newly eligible.
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The decision was made based on expected available supply, Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.
Alberta has received 58,500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines in its first shipment, and bookings will continue until appointments for those doses are fully booked. Hinshaw has said those unable to sign up for an appointment this week will have an opportunity to do so soon.
A separate expansion to vaccine rollout is slated for Monday, when those born between 1947 and 1956 will be able to get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, with booking again opening up one birth year at a time. FNMI individuals born between 1962 and 1972 will also be eligible.
At a Thursday news conference, Hinshaw aimed to alleviate concerns over the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine after at least nine European countries suspended use of some vaccines from the company after reports of blood clots in those who received the vaccine, though none suggested there is a link between the clots and getting the vaccine.
Canada has a different version of the vaccine than the one under investigation in Europe. The countrys doses are under the COVIShield brand name, are manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and have not been linked to any side-effects.
I want to assure everyone that the current doses of COVIShield-AstraZeneca vaccine offered in Alberta have not been linked to these issues, Hinshaw said.
Health Canada authorized these vaccines after independent and thorough scientific reviews for safety, efficacy and quality.
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I want to assure Albertans that the current doses of COVIShield AstraZeneca vaccine offered in Alberta have not been linked to the side effects issues reported in some European countries linked to one lot of vaccine. (1/4)
Dr. Deena Hinshaw (@CMOH_Alberta) March 11, 2021
Elsewhere Thursday, Alberta Health Services opened a new vaccination clinic at the Genesis Centre, becoming the second site in northeast Calgary to offer immunizations. The site is one of 116 in Alberta, and has capacity for 60 shots each hour.
By the end of day Wednesday, 226,208 Albertans had received at least one shot of vaccine, with 91,366 having received both necessary doses. To date, 6.6 per cent of Alberta adults have had at least one shot.
Only 129 adverse effects after immunization have been reported about one in every 2,500 shots.
jherring@postmedia.com
Twitter: @jasonfherring
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