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Trust in vaccines growing in Canada, but some get more love than others

MIA RABSON, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, May 7th, 2021

OTTAWA — A new survey from Proof Strategies suggests it’s not only Canada’s national vaccine advisers who have a “preferred” vaccine.

The survey of 1,500 people taken during the first three days of May suggests the two mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are way out in front in the eyes of Canadians.

More than eight in 10 people surveyed said they trusted the Pfizer vaccine to be safe and effective, and almost as many said they trusted Moderna.

However, only half of the respondents said they trusted Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine and 4.5 in 10 said they trusted Oxford-AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca and J&J use similar technology and have both been potentially linked to a new and very rare vaccine-induced blood clotting syndrome. Twelve cases are confirmed in Canada after about two million doses given. Three people have died.

While scientists still can’t explain why the vaccines are causing this syndrome, reports suggest it is happening between one in 100,000 doses given, and one in 250,000.

Proof President Bruce MacLellan said weeks of discussion and attention on that issue have clearly had an impact.

“The various regulatory decisions and announcements have succeeded in undermining trust in those brands,” he said.

The survey cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

The poll was taken a week after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization warned Canadians the blood clot risk may be a reason for people at low risk of getting COVID-19 to turn down AstraZeneca and wait until they can get Pfizer or Moderna.

The same warning issued for J&J came May 3, on the third day this poll was in the field.

There is, however, excellent news in the numbers, said MacLellan. The number of people who said they trusted “the COVID-19 vaccine” to be safe and effective is up 10 points since a similar poll was taken in January.

In the January survey, 64 per cent said they trusted the vaccine, well below the minimum 75 per cent threshold some experts say is needed to get decent herd immunity against the virus.

In May, that number is 74 per cent, which is almost there. It is relatively constant across Canada’s regions, and regardless of political viewpoint.

A staggering ninety-six per cent of people over the age of 75 said they trust the vaccine, compared with eight in 10 baby boomers, and almost seven in 10 people considered to be part of generation X or millennials.

Among those under the age of 25, trust is below 60 per cent. The good news there, however, is that 75 per cent of those under 25 said they trusted Pfizer, compared with 62 per cent for Moderna, 42 per cent for J&J and 34 per cent for AstraZeneca.

Provinces aren’t likely to give either AstraZeneca or J&J to anyone under the age of 30, after NACI’s recommendation to keep it for people older than that due to the risks of blood clots may outweigh the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 in that age group.

Dr. Fahad Razak, an internist caring for COVID-19 patients at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said the reality is most people in Canada who aren’t yet vaccinated — which includes most people under the age of 40 — are going to be offered Pfizer or Moderna.

Those two account for more than 80 per cent of the doses expected in the next two months, when enough doses are coming to get a first dose to every Canadian over the age of 12 who wants one.

Pfizer was just approved for kids 12 to 15 years old this week but no vaccines are yet approved for kids under 12.

Razak said if people are offered AstraZeneca they should take it, noting his wife received it with his full support. With COVID-19 still spreading rapidly in much of Canada, hospitals full and ICUs overflowing, the virus is posing a much bigger risk than the vaccines, he said.

“We have more people at just my hospital (right now) than have developed the clot all the way across Canada, despite the more than a million doses that have been given,” he said. “So that’s just, you know, putting it in context.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2021.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Air Canada reports $1.3B loss in Q1 compared with $1B loss a year ago

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, May 7th, 2021

Air Canada reported a loss of $1.3 billion in its first quarter compared with a loss of $1 billion in the same quarter last year as the pandemic continued to limit travel.

The airline says the loss amounted to $3.90 per diluted share for the quarter that ended March 31 compared with a loss of $4.00 per diluted share a year ago when it had fewer shares outstanding.

Revenue in the quarter totalled $729 million, down from $3.7 billion in the first three months of 2020.

Air Canada says its capacity as measured in available seat miles was down 82.1 per cent compared with a year ago, while traffic measured in revenue passenger miles was down 89.5 per cent.

The airline plans to approximately double its second quarter capacity from the same quarter in 2020, but says compared with the same period in 2019 that second quarter capacity is expected to be down 84 per cent.

Last month, Air Canada reached a deal for $5.9 billion in federal aid including money earmarked to help refund customers.

Canada may find it challenging to reach herd immunity from COVID-19, experts say

HINA ALAM, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Herd immunity may not be reached in Canada but a return to life similar to that before COVID-19 is possible through immunization, experts say.

Such immunity is achieved when enough people are immune to a virus, either through vaccinations or natural infections or a combination of both.

Prof. Paul Tupper of Simon Fraser University’s mathematics department said herd immunity is unlikely to happen with COVID-19 for a few reasons.

The virus is being transmitted worldwide, which means it is reintroduced in different places across borders and immunity through vaccination and infection doesn’t last permanently. The vaccines don’t seem to be completely effective against some of the new variants, he said.

“So, I think what is more likely to happen is that we end up in a situation like we have with seasonal flu,” Tupper said.

“We have to live with the flu, and I think something similar is going to happen with COVID.”

The level of immunity among the population also changes with the variants, especially the more transmissible strains, he said.

Sarah Otto, a University of British Columbia professor, said the disease’s reproductive rate is hard to pinpoint, which makes it difficult to establish a herd immunity target. Otto is an expert on the mathematical models of pandemic growth and control in the university’s zoology department.

The reproductive rate is the number of additional people infected by a single person with COVID-19, which has also changed because of the variants, she said.

Canada might also fall short of herd immunity because people can still get infected after vaccination, even if they are less likely to develop symptoms, she said.

“We don’t yet know how effective vaccines are at reducing transmission from person to person and that matters a lot,” Otto said.

Vaccinated people are getting fewer infections but those who do can still suffer severe symptoms, she said

“Before the pandemic, we didn’t have working vaccines for coronaviruses, so we don’t know exactly what the outcomes are going to be. It’s very unusual to have a disease with such wildly differing outcomes, with asymptomatic individuals and severely affected long haulers. How are vaccines going to change that mix? We don’t really know why the severe cases are so severe.”

Tupper said public health guidelines will change as more people get vaccinated.

“But the goal of eradicating COVID just does not appear to be realistic.”

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, said vaccines can significantly reduce transmission rates, regardless of whether Canada reaches herd immunity.

“Some communities might have no transmission while other communities, even within the same province, might have some low levels of transmission and it’s all based on vaccine status,” he said.

“But regardless, we will achieve very, very low rates of transmission in our communities because of vaccination.”

Community level immunity is when a virus is not completely eliminated, he said.

“There may be some transmission of COVID-19 but sporadically with small outbreaks or with low levels of transmission, while most people are largely unaffected due to widespread vaccination.”

It had been suggested that herd immunity could be reached when about 70 per cent of the population is vaccinated, but now researchers don’t know what level of protection is required because of the variants.

Otto said there are more questions than answers at this point.

“With every partial answer we get two or three more questions. These are hard and tricky issues and I wish we were less uncertain, but that is the truth of the matter.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021.

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

How the Liberals screwed up Bill C-10. And how they can fix it.

THE BIG STORY | posted Thursday, May 6th, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, you know something’s gone wrong when the government is promising to amend their changes to the broadcasting act to make sure it doesn’t apply to, say, your personal Twitter feed. But that’s what the federal government had to do this week after public outcry surrounding Bill C-10.

That is just one of the more obvious examples of the problems with this bill, which has been trounced by experts on both sides of the aisle. So what’s in the actual bill? What did the government get wrong? And how can they fix it?

GUEST: Jesse Hirsh, metaviews.ca

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Delays in COVID tests resulting in longer stays at quarantine hotels

ERICK ESPINOSA | posted Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Some travellers who recently arrived in Canada can expect delays in receiving their COVID-19 test results, requiring them to pay for extra nights at a government mandated quarantine hotel.

“I have already spent the three nights in a hotel and fourth night booking is not in my budget,” Tahir told CityNews. “We do not want to break the quarantine rule, so I extended the hotel stay. This is very stressful for me and my family”

Tahir arrived with his wife and son at Pearson Airport on May 1. Upon arrival, his family was tested before heading to their quarantine hotel. He was expecting to return home on May 4, but was disappointed that he and his wife had not yet received their results.

“Switch Health told me on the phone that they are lagging in testing and told me that it may take up to five days.”

Switch Health, a company hired by the Public Health Agency of Canada to conduct the mandatory testing for air travellers upon arrival, confirmed the delay with CityNews.

“There may be a slight delay for a small number of travellers arriving in Toronto” Jordan Paquet, Director of Public Affairs, explained.

“On Sunday, one of our lab partners encountered a problem with some of their processing machines which temporarily decreased the number of tests they could run on that day.”

Paquet said the issue has since been resolved and they are working closely to assist those who have been affected.

“I have called so many times to the Government Authorized Accommodation Information line,” Tahir said.

On day three of his stay, they advised him to continue to wait for his results.

“When I asked who is going to pay for an extra night of hotel, she did not have an answer.”

Switch Health has been trying to keep up with the influx of tweets they have been receiving from frustrated travellers.

“Hey! @SwitchHealthCA we are checking out at 11 today. It’s been 5 days but we still have no result. I am not paying for another night here! Please release the result now!” one person tweeted.

“@SwitchHealthCA I would like to know what happened with our samples. It’s been past 72hrs and we still did not receive our test result. GAA hotel is expensive already. We don’t have the luxury to pay for another night. I contacted you any platform possible but i get no reply,” another tweet read.

The issue not only impacts travellers waiting to leave their hotels, but those isolating in their own homes. Switch Health has also been hired to manage all Day-8 COVID-19 test kits for air travellers who leave the hotel after day three to complete their 14 day quarantine at home.

“Our 14 day quarantine was completed on May 3, however the test kits were still in the sorting facility in Toronto according to the tracking system online” Brenda Hutson-Dean wrote to CityNews.

“We are required by law to remain in quarantine until the we receive a negative test result from the test.”

On day 16 Hutson-Dean received their negative results even though the tracking system indicating the tests were still in a Toronto storage facility.

“I am a bit suspicious of the test results being authentic since both test kits which were received in the sorting facility at different times on May 1 remain in Toronto according to the tracking system available to me.”

Paquet said “samples are sent to a sorting facility or “deconstruction” facility first, which is where they are logged, arranged in a rack, and sent to one of our lab partners for analysis.”

While this helps their team catch any issues early, Paquet said it’s the “last place a person would see it scanned if they were tracking with their Purolator number.”

A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Wednesday, May 5, 2021

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, May 5, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 232,744 new vaccinations administered for a total of 14,284,234 doses given. Nationwide, 1,156,128 people or 3.1 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 37,689.991 per 100,000.

There were no new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 16,713,632 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 85.46 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Please note that Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting 19,168 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 185,215 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 353.713 per 1,000. In the province, 1.85 per cent (9,676) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland and Labrador for a total of 209,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 40 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 88.6 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

P.E.I. is reporting 6,208 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 56,104 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 353.681 per 1,000. In the province, 6.71 per cent (10,648) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 64,335 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 41 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 87.21 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nova Scotia is reporting 41,627 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 325,218 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 333.25 per 1,000. In the province, 3.76 per cent (36,687) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 388,450 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 40 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 83.72 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is reporting 26,792 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 275,356 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 353.002 per 1,000. In the province, 3.55 per cent (27,680) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 310,995 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 40 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 88.54 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Quebec is reporting 52,141 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,308,542 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 386.663 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 3,850,087 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.93 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Ontario is reporting 88,871 new vaccinations administered for a total of 5,467,120 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 372.19 per 1,000. In the province, 2.57 per cent (378,085) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 6,635,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.39 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Manitoba is reporting 6,459 new vaccinations administered for a total of 501,941 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 364.517 per 1,000. In the province, 5.35 per cent (73,640) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 575,990 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 87.14 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Saskatchewan is reporting 9,924 new vaccinations administered for a total of 460,747 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 390.744 per 1,000. In the province, 3.82 per cent (45,036) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 502,955 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 43 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 91.61 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Alberta is reporting 28,152 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,668,455 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 379.018 per 1,000. In the province, 6.89 per cent (303,509) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 1,774,065 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 40 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 94.05 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

British Columbia is reporting 32,832 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,910,162 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 372.237 per 1,000. In the province, 1.80 per cent (92,244) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 2,243,160 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 44 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 48,655 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 1,165.92 per 1,000. In the territory, 54.29 per cent (22,657) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 55,920 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 130 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 87.01 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 48,007 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 1,064.009 per 1,000. In the territory, 48.04 per cent (21,674) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 58,800 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 130 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 81.64 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nunavut is reporting 128 new vaccinations administered for a total of 28,712 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 741.414 per 1,000. In the territory, 32.45 per cent (12,568) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 44,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 110 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 65.11 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

*Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published May 5, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Alberta’s Kenney to field questions on new COVID rules, looming hospital crisis

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and key members of his United Conservative cabinet are to provide more details and answer questions this morning on new COVID-19 health restrictions.

Kenney introduced tougher rules last night but didn’t take questions from reporters.

The changes include closing schools to in-person learning on Friday and ordering barbershops, hair salons and restaurant patios to shut down as of Sunday.

The premier says the rules are necessary to arrest a surging wave of COVID-19 cases that will otherwise overwhelm the health system in the next few weeks.

Alberta has more than 150 people in intensive care with the illness and its COVID-19 case rates are the highest in North America.

The Opposition NDP says once again Kenney is doing too little, too late with little warning to those affected.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 5, 2021.

The Canadian Press

How are you? I am fine: What we lose without small talk

THE BIG STORY | posted Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, how many strangers have you chatted with recently? Probably not a lot. And while your immediate reaction to that might be, “Great, I hate talking to strangers about nothing”—the research doesn’t back you up.

Casual small talk plays a larger role in our well-being than we assume it does, and most of us are doing much, much less of it these days. What does that mean for our happiness? And for our pathetic attempts at chit-chat once we emerge back into a world full of random social interactions?

GUEST: Hannah Seo (You can read Hannah’s piece in The Walruses)

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Who have provinces pegged to receive COVID-19 vaccines in the coming weeks?

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks.

The military commander handling logistics for Canada’s vaccine distribution program says there will be enough vaccine delivered to give a first dose before Canada Day to every adult who wants one.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin says that’s if provinces follow the advice to delay second doses up to four months.

He also cautions that it is dependent on having no production delays again.

Health Canada says up to 37 million doses of vaccine could be shipped in May and June, but only 20.3 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and 1.04 million doses of Moderna are confirmed. The remaining 11.3 million doses of Moderna, and another four million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca from various sources are still tentative.

Provinces initially suspended giving AstraZeneca shots to people under the age of 55 based on an advisory committee’s advice, but their recommendation changed on April 23 to reflect that the shot is safe for anyone aged 30 and older.

Provinces have yet to move the threshold quite that low, however.

There are approximately 31 million Canadians over 16, and no vaccines are approved for anyone younger than 16. Health Canada is currently reviewing an application from Pfizer to lower the age for that vaccine to 12.

Here’s a list of the inoculation plans throughout Canada:

Newfoundland and Labrador

Residents between the ages of 55 to 64 have access to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

People 65 and older, Indigenous adults, people considered “clinically extremely vulnerable” and rotational workers, truck drivers and flight crew have access to the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Nova Scotia

Residents as young as 55 can now book an appointment for a Pfizer of Moderna vaccine.

The province has also expanded access to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to residents aged 40 to 54.

Prince Edward Island

People in the province aged 40 to 59 can now book appointments for a COVID-19 vaccine.

People 16 years and older who have certain underlying medical conditions, pregnant woman and eligible members of their household can also get a vaccine.

New Brunswick

People as young as 60 can begin booking vaccination appointments.

Individuals 40 years old and older with three or more select chronic health conditions are also eligible.

Officials said the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine would be available to people aged 40 to 54 by April 30.

Quebec

Quebecers aged 45 and up are now eligible to book an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine.

The province announced last week that it is gradually widening vaccine access to the rest of the general population in descending order of age.

Over the next two weeks, appointments will open to Quebecers in descending order of age — dropping by five years every two or three days — until May 14, when they will be available to people aged 18 to 24.

Quebec has also expanded AstraZeneca availability to people as young as 45.

Ontario

Ontario is expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines across the province starting this week.

All adults 18 and older living in 114 specific postal codes designated as virus hot spots can book their shots through the provincial portal as of 8 a.m. May 3.

And bookings will be open to all residents 50 and older starting on Thursday (May 6), as well as those with high-risk health conditions such as obesity, developmental disabilities and treatments requiring immunosuppression.

A group of employees who cannot work from home − including food manufacturing workers and foster care workers − also become eligible.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says the expansion is possible thanks to a more steady supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

The province has said that if the vaccine supply holds, it expects to make those 18 and older eligible for a shot at mass sites provincewide on the week of May 24.

Manitoba

Manitoba is using the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for all Indigenous people aged 18 and up and others aged 50 and up. These are available through a few channels including so-called supersites in larger communities. Health officials plan to continue reducing the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months.

All front-line police officers and firefighters, regardless of age, qualify as well. All adults who are pregnant, who receive community living disability services or who work in any health-care setting — including outpatient locations and the province’s vaccine warehouse — can book an appointment as well.

The province is also allowing anyone 40 and over to get an Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine through pharmacies and medical clinics, subject to availability. People 30-39 can get a shot if they have certain underlying health conditions such as chronic liver failure or severe obesity.

The province is also vaccinating all adults in high-risk areas, including the north of the province and core areas of Winnipeg and Brandon.

Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Health Authority has opened up bookings for residents aged 37 and older. In the Far North, all adults are eligible.

All front-line workers over 18 can also get vaccinations. From Wednesday to Friday of this week, truck drivers and essential energy workers can get shots in Kenmare, N.D.

The province previously expanded its vaccine delivery plan for people in more vulnerable groups to include all pregnant women and 16- and 17-year-olds who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable.

Saskatchewan also dropped the age at which people can receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to 40 from 55.

There are drive-thru and walk-in vaccination clinics in communities across the province. Some pharmacies that are part of a pilot program are also providing shots.

Alberta

Teachers and child-care workers are now included for priority vaccinations.

On April 30, the final two groups in Phase 2 become eligible. They include vulnerable Albertans and those who support them, workers at locations with potential for large outbreaks, those 50 and older, and all First Nations, Inuit and Metis people aged 35 and older.

Also included are front-line police officers and provincial sheriffs who interact with residents at shelters, correctional facilities and remand centres, border security staff and firefighters.

Albertans born in 2009 or earlier with high-risk underlying health conditions are eligible for shots.

Health-care workers can still book appointments: physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, their office staff, lab workers, practicum students in clinical areas, as well as health workers on First Nations reserves and Metis settlements.

Previously, shots have been available to front-line health workers, staff and residents in supportive living facilities.

For the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the province has lowered the minimum age to 40 from 55. For those living in the hot spots of Banff and Lake Louise as well as the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, the age for AstraZeneca is 30.

The Moderna vaccine is also available to Indigenous people in Wood Buffalo as young as 30.

More than 250 pharmacies are offering immunizations. Ten physicians clinics across the province are also providing shots as part of a pilot project.

About 15,000 workers at 136 meat-packing plants across the province can also get shots at on-site clinics, pharmacies and health clinics.

Alberta has said it is extending the time between the first dose and the second to four months. But some cancer patients are able to book a second dose 21 to 28 days after their first.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said the province expects to offer all Albertans 18 and over a first dose by the end of June.

British Columbia

With more than one million doses of COVID-19 vaccines arriving in May, British Columbia health officials say they are looking at whether they can reduce the 16-week wait time between first and second shots for most people.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the province expects to receive 1.1 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this month along with more shipments of the Moderna vaccine.

But Henry says it’s still too early to estimate the possible change in wait times.

About 1.87 million people have received a first vaccine dose and 91,731 have had their second shot.

All adults over the age of 18 are eligible to register for vaccines through the province’s Get Vaccinated program.

Health authorities have also been targeting so-called hot spot communities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19 with dedicated clinics, which the provincial government says are using its “limited” supply of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

B.C. has lowered the age for those eligible to receive the AstraZeneca shot to 30, starting with those in ‘hot spot’ communities and adding appointments at pharmacies as supplies improve.

Nunavut

Nunavut has opened vaccinations to anyone 18 and older.

It is also offering shots to rotational workers coming from Southern Canada.

The territory had expected to finish its vaccine rollout of first and second doses by the end of April.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories is also providing vaccine to those 18 and older and had expected to finish its rollout by the end of April.

It is similarly offering shots to rotational workers and mine employees coming from southern Canada.

Yukon

More than 48,000 doses of Moderna vaccine have been administered in Yukon.

More than 70 per cent of Yukon residents have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 53 per cent of the population has now been fully vaccinated.

Health officials say that means they can reduce the hours of operation at the Whitehorse vaccine clinic.

Deputy health minister Stephen Samis says they’ll scale down operations and focus some efforts on other vaccinations, including pre-kindergarten and routine childhood vaccines.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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