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EDMONTON — Alberta has started running out of COVID-19 vaccines, with supply completely used up in parts of the province and other regions having to reduce appointments to ration remaining doses for vulnerable populations.
In Calgary, a shortage of available vaccines meant that 1,500 health-care workers had their appointments cancelled this week so that those in long-term care centres and supportive living could receive them instead. And, because of the dwindling supply of Moderna vaccines, 2,000 injections were delayed across the province, said the province’s health authority.
“We need additional product,” said Alberta Health Services spokesman Kerry Williamson in an email.
In the central zone — roughly between Edmonton and Calgary, and including Red Deer and several other communities — all available vaccine doses were used up over the weekend. Williamson said “several sites” in the north of the province also used up their vaccine supply, and appointments had to be cancelled in the south zone, which is south of Calgary and includes Lethbridge.
“While AHS has the ability and capacity to complete all immunizations at long-term care and designated supportive living facilities by the end of the week, we may not have the required vaccine supply to achieve that,” Williamson wrote.
By early next week, Alberta government projections show it will be short by around 46,000 doses and not returning to a surplus of doses until mid-February.
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The federal government says 24,375 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 17,100 of the Moderna vaccine are expected in Alberta by Jan. 17. By the start of February, the federal government says Alberta will be getting 42,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 24,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
But with the actual inventory — in advance of any deliveries this week — running below 10,000 doses, and other doses earmarked as second doses for those who’ve already had the first shot, Alberta expects to be running a vaccine deficit by early next week.
Roughly four weeks into the national vaccine rollout, premiers and pundits are clamouring for the Liberal government to provide more doses as vaccination plans are put into place and citizens eagerly anticipate a return to something resembling normal.
Premier Jason Kenney has flagged the gap between the capacity of the Alberta government to deliver vaccines — between 50,000 and 200,000 doses per week — and the expected number of doses the province will receive, to eventually reach nearly 70,000 per week.
“And I want to be clear, this is not a blame game. But we’re just saying that Alberta’s health system has stepped up in a big way here. And we need more doses, bottom line. It’s very simple,” Kenney said earlier this week.
The situation is further complicated, the Alberta government says, by portions of the incoming shipments being earmarked for those who’ve already had their first dose, instead of going into the arms of new patients.
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