Some Alberta teachers keeping a close eye on vaccination, COVID-19 rates

CALGARY — Some post secondary teachers say they’ll be watching vaccination rates and an increase in COVID-19 cases closely as students return to class in just over a month. 

Alberta has seen exponential growth in cases over the last week, and certain age groups are still lagging behind when it comes to immunization.

One of those groups primarily makes up post secondary students. 

As of Friday, Albertans aged 20 to 29 are only about 44 per cent vaccinated. 

They also make up a large number of the active virus cases in the province. 

“When about half the group is not vaccinated, it’s very easy for the virus to find its next host and move quickly through a classroom,” Craig Jenne said. 

Jenne is with the University of Calgary’s Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases. 

Come September, he’ll be holding lectures to 150 students at a time. 

“In my class we could have 75 or 80 people not vaccinated when we start up,” Jenne told CTV News. “It’s basically the ideal environment for a virus to move around.”

Jenne has both of his shots and says he knows of many students who do too. The provincial data of vaccination rates in university and college students isn’t available. 

COVID-19 numbers over the weekend show the virus isn’t gone yet. 

Almost 400 cases were announced over the three day period — and some believe the stats may have been helped along by the Calgary Stampede, which wrapped up July 18. 

More than 60 per cent of Alberta’s active cases are in the Calgary health zone. 

But amongst the upwards trend, there is a lot of good news. 

Hospitalizations and deaths have either steadied or are declining. Experts say it’s proof that vaccines are working. 

Jenne believes it’s reason for optimism on the pandemic front. 

“It’s something we have to keep our eye on, but it’s not something that should be all consuming at this point,” he said. “The virus will continue to spread if we gather in large groups indoors, so if we can get outside and physically distance, there’s no reason not to get out and enjoy summer.”

Experts largely believe herd immunity can be reached if vaccination numbers approach 85 per cent. 

As of Monday, fewer than 76 per cent of all eligible Albertans have been immunized.

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