All Albertans 12 and up eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by Monday

EDMONTON — Within a week, all Albertans aged 12 and older will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

The province was the first in Canada to announce Wednesday morning it was lowering the age of eligibility.

Albertans born in 1991 or earlier will become eligible Thursday, May 6.

Then, booking will open Monday, May 10, to Albertans born between 1992 and 2009.

Health Canada cleared children 12 and older for the Pfizer vaccine earlier Wednesday morning.

​Alberta’s opening up of age eligibility comes as the province tightens restrictions in an attempt to curb a third wave of COVID-19 and variant infections.

“This is a major milestone in our vaccine rollout, and it comes right when we need it most,” Premier Jason Kenney said.

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Alberta’s premier and several ministers will take questions Wednesday morning about the latest restrictions brought on by the pandemic the evening before.

Jason Kenney announced during the Tuesday supper hour his province would move all schools online, close patio dining, and limit outdoor gatherings to five people — the plan chosen by his government to clamp down a fast-moving third wave of COVID-19 and its variants.

Kenney’s address was broadcast on social and traditional media, but the premier did not take questions from reporters.

He will be joined by Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, Justice Minister Kaycee Madu and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

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The measures — decided by Alberta’s emergency management cabinet committee earlier that day — will effectively apply to most of the province: anywhere with more than 50 cases per 100,000 people and 30 or more active cases.

Retail business must also reduce capacity to 10 per cent of what is allowed according to fire code.

And, fines for violating public health measures were doubled to $2,000.

Kenney said Tuesday night the moves were necessary to “prevent disaster from unfolding in our hospitals.”

According to the latest data, there are 671 Albertans in hospital with coronavirus, 150 of whom are in ICUs.

In total, there are 226 Albertans in ICUs — more than the system had room for before the pandemic. The premier says Alberta Health Services can increase the number of ICU beds to 425, but not without reducing surgeries and other care services.

“If we don’t want widespread delays or cancellations of surgeries and other health care. We have to stop the spike right now,” he said.

Of some 1,700 cases reported Tuesday, about half were variant strains.

Since COVID-19 was first detected in the province, 2,099 people have died with the disease.

Alberta also announced late Tuesday a woman in her 50s who had received the AstraZeneca shot died from vaccine-induced induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia. It is the second death linked to COVID-19 vaccine in Canada.  

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