Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said that only health care workers in Edmonton and Calgary will recieve the inital round of the COVID-19 vaccine. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Central zone health care workers excluded from first round of vaccine

Central zone has 1,480 active cases of COVID-19

Central zone doctors, ICU nurses and long-term care workers will not be included in the first round of COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw confirmed that only those workers in Calgary and Edmonton will receive the first dose of the vaccine on Dec. 16.

She said that due to the high volume of COVID-19 cases in those cities, workers there will be the main priority with the initial rollout. Edmonton and Calgary have 82 per cent of the COVID-19 cases in Alberta.

“We know that health care workers across the province have been working very hard to support their patients,” she said.

“The very first doses will be allocated to Edmonton and Calgary because that is where we have the greatest number of active cases and the greatest pressure on our acute care system and the long term care and designated supported care living outbreaks that have been the largest with the greatest number of deaths.”

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro said that 3,900 doses of the vaccine are going to be made available on Dec. 16 and Alberta Health Services will select the workers who will receive it.

The Central zone has 1,480 active cases of COVID-19, with 55 people in hospital and five in the ICU. So far, 23 people in the region have died from the virus.

Hinshaw added that they don’t yet have a date as to when the next round of doses will be available for other health care workers across the province.

“We are working very hard with the federal government to make plans for when subsequent doses of the vaccine might be available and we anticipate being able to roll out the vaccine to other places in the province as soon as more doses arrive,” she said.

Alberta added another 1,566 cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and the province now has 20,163 active cases. There were 13 new deaths and 666 people have died from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic. The province completed 16,793 COVID-19 tests on Dec. 9 and the test positivity rate is nine per cent.

Red Deer now has 386 active cases of COVID-19 and Red Deer County has 98 active. Lacombe County has 64 active and Lacombe has 45 active. Sylvan Lake sits at 61 active cases and Olds has 30 active. Mountain View County has 27 active and Kneehill County has 13.

Camrose has 92 active and Camrose County sits at 36 active. Clearwater County has 75 active and Drumheller has 17 active.

The County of Wetaskiwin, Wetaskiwin and Ponoka County combined have 244 active cases of COVID-19.

In schools, there are active alerts or outbreaks in 432 schools, about 28 per cent of all schools in the province. These schools have a combined total of 1,789 active cases. That includes 113 schools on the watch list.

Hinshaw added that with the holiday season fast approaching, she knows Albertans are disappointed with the new COVID-19 measures.

“In a year filled with so many sacrifices, it seems unfair to ask for more,” she said.

“As social gatherings are a leading cause of transmission, this is our only option. I have been inspired by the creativity, sense of community and perseverance, I’ve seen as people across our province embrace the reality of our situation and plan to make the most of it.”