EDMONTON (660 NEWS) — Millennials are coming out in force booking their COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
After eligibility opened to anyone born in 1991 or earlier this week, over 130,000 people have found a time for a shot so far. This number coming as a surprise to Premier Jason Kenney, with the biggest city in the province leading the way.
“We have seen, actually, relatively more bookings in Calgary than in other health zones,” Kenney said on Friday. “We have more bookings in all zones now than supply available right now.”
This is largely expected, as Health Minister Tyler Shandro also said this week that when you book an appointment for a shot, you are claiming a vaccine dose that has not yet arrived in the province.
That said, Kenney added he is not concerned and feels there is more certainty around federal deliveries of the doses in a sharp change of tone from past weeks and months where the premier has lambasted the federal government for slow vaccine deliveries.
“What we’re banking on is additional incoming supplies. This week, we have received we estimate about 350,000 doses,” and Kenney said over 200,000 more doses could be on the way the following week.
“With incoming supply, we should have adequate supply to meet the bookings that have been made over the next week in every health zone.”
With Calgary leading the way in this new wave of vaccinations, Kenney said Alberta Health Services (AHS) is prepared to make any necessary adjustments, but there should be enough space right now to accommodate the appointments.
“Alberta Health Services will be readjusting their supply allocation to match the demand where it is, we don’t want to turn anybody away obviously,” said the premier. “We’ve got AHS vaccination centres all across (Calgary). There’s the rapid flow-through clinic at the Telus Convention Centre downtown that can do I believe up to 10,000 doses a day. Typically, they’ve been averaging about 6,000 a day there.”
In addition to AHS facilities, there are about 400 pharmacies in Calgary offering shots and a total of 1,300 province-wide doing the same.
Kenney said he also wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to lobby the United States government to allow more vaccine exports, as the announcement on Friday centred around Montana giving vaccines to truck drivers when they cross the border.
Meanwhile, Kenney added that vaccine hesitancy seems to be decreasing in Alberta. While there’s still about ten per cent of people, by his estimation, that will choose not to get a vaccine for whatever reason, there is more excitement around intake in the province.
When asked if he will push harder for his MLAs to express support for vaccines — amid the continued revolt among some members of his caucus opposing COVID-19 health restrictions — Kenney said they probably wouldn’t have much sway.
“I don’t think people go and get the jab because some politician does,” he said. “I really don’t think people are going to be influenced one way or another by what politicians do on this. Everybody has got free will, nobody is being compelled to do this.
Kenney said they have only seen 282 adverse events from vaccinations so far in Alberta, and “the science could not be clearer that the risk of COVID to your health is infinitely greater than the tiny risk posed by vaccines.”
So far, over 1.7 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Alberta, with more than 300,000 being fully immunized.
At this point, the government will maintain a four-month gap between first and second doses, except for the most vulnerable people, until supplies continue to increase.