CALGARY — Select family physicians will be the latest group to administer shots as Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout expands once again.
After a successful pilot project earlier this year, the provincial government has announced 60 physician clinics will be offering patients their first shots in the coming weeks.
Those sites will be able to vaccinate 8,200 people (a day? a week? Or through the whole program?).
The clinics will be administering the Moderna vaccine.
McKenzie Family Practice physician Dr. Christine Luelo believes the system will help growing immunization numbers and improve patient accessibility.
“It’s close to home, it’s convenient to them, and their providers know them best,” Luelo said.
She added much of the new program is about trust. It banks on clinics being an easier sell for those who may be experiencing some vaccine hesitancy.
“We reach out to them if we know they haven’t been vaccinated,” she said. “We try to think about the tools we use every day in medicine to do new behaviours that (the patients) may not be ready for, and then we use those same skills to have the vaccine hesitancy conversation.”
More than 60 per cent of eligible Albertans have now received at least a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, according to the province’s Friday update.
“We’re really going to need to get those 10 to 20 per cent of patients that are hesitant injections,” Luelo added. “This is the place to do it: in their family practices.”
“We know that physicians are a trusted health-care provider and this will help reach many people who are eagerly waiting for their chance to get the vaccine,” Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro added through a provincial release.
That document outlined new billing codes for the expanded service.
Alberta’s current level of first dose vaccinations means the province could move to Stage 2 of its reopening plan as soon as June 10. That plan also relies on there being fewer than 500 COVID-19 patients in hospital, a goal which was achieved on Saturday.
Premier Jason Kenney said Friday the province is expecting about 1.1 million vaccine doses over the next month.
Information about second doses is expected early next week.
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