As COVID-19 vaccinations continued in January, some questioned the priorities set by Alberta Health Services (AHS) amid concerns about supply for the phased immunization program.
Phase 1A of the plan included the vaccination of all long term care (LTC) and designated supportive living (DSL) residents, regardless of age.
However, residents who are designated as assisted living were not included in Phase 1A.
“Alberta has a robust system already in place to provide access to vaccines for routine immunization programs, including seasonal influenza campaigns and outbreak response activities,” stated AHS in a provided statement.
“The federal government is responsible for supplying the COVID-19 vaccine while Alberta Health is responsible for vaccine policy setting and allocation of the vaccine.”
AHS is responsible for administering the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the provincial immunization program. Alberta Health, with input from AHS, identified the key populations to be included in the province’s phased immunization program.
“Due to uncertainty around vaccine supply from the federal government, AHS is allocating the vaccine we do have to ensure that we are able to provide second doses to long term care and designated supportive living residents as well as eligible healthcare workers within the allowable second dose immunization windows,” said AHS.
“For residents of LTC and DSL facilities, we will continue to offer the shorter interval of three-to-four-weeks as much as possible pending vaccine supply because of the fact that this group of people is at the very highest risk of death.”
According to AHS, the first round vaccinations of all residents of LTC and designated supportive living facilities was completed in Alberta on Jan. 18.
As of Feb. 3, 112,388 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in Alberta.
This number includes some residents of Bashaw Meadows. Residents who were eligible under Phase 1A received their first doses on Jan. 11, AHS confirmed.
As Bashaw Meadows includes both lodge and DSL accommodations, some residents were waiting for Phase 1B, which was to begin in February.
In Phase 1B, seniors 75 years of age and over, regardless of where they live, are to receive the vaccine. Phase 1B also includes First Nations, Métis and persons 65 years of age and over living in a First Nations community or Metis settlement, as they are considered higher risk.
A family member of a Bashaw Meadows assisted living resident who did not wish to be identified confirmed their family member received their first dose of the vaccine on Feb. 4.
They say they are “glad” because they had been feeling some anxiety about when their family member would be vaccinated.
“We are working diligently to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible, with available product and will continue to communicate openly and transparently,” stated AHS.
For more information about the phased immunization program, go to alberta/ca/covid-19-vaccine.
UPDATE: AHS confirmed that on Feb. 4, 2021 a number of the independent living residents at Bashaw Meadows received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, residents in supportive living at the facility received their second dose on Feb. 1.