As Alberta’s vaccine supply is steadily increasing, Alberta Health is preparing to immunize more Albertans who may be at risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19. Phases 2B and 2C of Alberta’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program are expected to begin in April. Exact timing will depend on vaccine supply and will be announced closer to the start of each phase. The phased approach is in place to protect those at high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, and those who interact with them, like healthcare workers and support staff.
Albertans with underlying conditions will be eligible for immunization, as they are most at risk of severe outcomes. A list of the associated underlying health conditions eligible under Phase 2B is available at Alberta.ca. The conditions chosen are associated with a higher risk of death or hospitalization for those 16 years of age and older.
Albertans with at least one of the eligible health conditions age 16 and older will be able to get the vaccine. The age range has been dropped from 18 to 16 years of age as the Pfizer vaccine is licensed to immunize persons 16 years of age or older. Albertans who will be 16 years of age this year must wait until they have turned 16 before accessing the Pfizer vaccine. Likewise, Albertans must be 18 years of age to be immunized with the Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccine at this time.
This approach reflects the importance of protecting those most at risk of severe outcomes. Alberta will operate on the honour system. A doctor’s note or other proof of an underlying condition will not be required.
In this phase, vaccine will be offered to groups who are at high risk of experiencing severe outcomes, and Albertans who regularly come into contact with them.
Phase 2C will offer the vaccine to
- residents and staff linked to eligible congregate living settings including correctional facilities, homeless shelters, meatpacking plants, group homes including disability, and mental health and other types of licensed supportive living;
- healthcare workers providing direct and acute patient care who have a high potential for spread to high-risk individuals, including pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and all other healthcare professionals and their support staff; and
- caregivers of Albertans who are most at risk of severe outcomes.
Workers eligible in this phase will need to provide personal identification that contains a birth date and proof of employment or professional registration (e.g., employee ID card, letter of employment or placement) when booking or attending their appointments with Alberta Health Services or at community pharmacies. Health officials will work with licensed supportive living facilities, pharmacists, and primary care clinicians to notify and confirm eligibility of people in this group.
The arrival of the vaccine does not mean the pandemic is over. For now, we all must continue to follow public health guidelines, including physical distancing, practising good hand hygiene, masking when in public, and staying home when sick.
For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, refer to Alberta Health’s Q-and-A document for the public and healthcare practitioners.