Albertans aged 40 and up will be eligible to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine beginning Tuesday.
The government made the announcement Monday morning after Premier Jason Kenney tweeted the change late Sunday evening. Starting April 20, Alberta Health Services along with participating pharmacies will begin booking appointments for people born in 1981 or earlier. Walk-in vaccinations will be available in Edmonton and Calgary.
AstraZeneca was previously only available to those aged 55 and up.
The change will allow 575,425 more people to receive a vaccination, a news release said Monday morning.
“With COVID-19 cases at high levels throughout the province, we are lowering the age eligibility for this vaccine so that as many Albertans as possible are able to choose the protection this vaccine offers,” said Health Minister Tyler Shandro in the release.
The change comes after Ontario lowered the age of eligibility to the same age group on Sunday.
In Alberta, there have been reports of low turn-out of people showing up to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine amid concerns the vaccine is linked to a low chance of developing blood clots. The first case of such a clot in the province was announced by the Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena HInshaw on Saturday.
The Alberta clot marks the second case of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) in Canada out of more than 700,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that have been administered to date. Hinshaw reiterated over the weekend that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe.
A total of 1,147,048 doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in Alberta as of April 17.
More to come…
— With files from Jeff Labine