Health Minister Addresses Covid-19 Vaccine Shortage

Health Minister Addresses Covid-19 Vaccine Shortage

Michelle Pinon
News Advertiser

Today Alberta’s Health Minister issued a statement on the federal government’s handling of COVID-19 vaccine procurement.

Tyler Shandro stated, “For the third time this month, the federal government has notified us through bureaucratic channels that Alberta’s Pfizer vaccine allocation will be slashed yet again.

“At first, we were told that Alberta’s share of vaccines would be reduced between 20 and 80 per cent over four weeks.

“Shortly after that, we found out that Alberta would actually receive no vaccines at all in the last week of January. At the same time, the federal government reassured us that we would receive the full 468,000 doses that Alberta had been promised by the end of March. The temporary reductions were to be made up for in the remainder of the first quarter.

“This morning, we’ve been told that Alberta will receive 63,000 fewer vaccines in the first quarter of this year. This means 63,000 more Albertans will not receive this life-saving vaccine.

The federal government is failing Canadians. This is a grim situation that seems to be getting worse every week. We know that life for Canadians will not begin returning to something resembling normal until our most vulnerable are immunized. Prime Minister Trudeau, Health Minister Hajdu, and Public Services and Procurement Minister Anand need to come clean with Canadians and fix this now. Anything less is unacceptable.”

Despite the decline in new and active cases across the province has not lifted its province-wide restrictions.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw stated on January 27, “I know these measures are profoundly impacting many people, and I understand the desire of some to move forward now and hope that things turn out okay.

We are monitoring the situation in the province and hope to update Albertans soon on when some of the current restrictions may be safely eased.

Until then, it is essential that we all continue to follow the measures in place. This is how we protect our health system and each other.”

Hinshaw went on to explain why they are continuing to focus on protecting this system, and why high hospitalization numbers affect everyone.

She noted, “Thanks to the hard work and sacrifices of so many Albertans, we have seen hospitalizations decline significantly over the past few weeks. From the peak of 943 people in hospital on December 30th, we have declined to 604 today. From a high of 155 ICU admissions, we are now down to 110. This is encouraging news, and a signal that we are making meaningful progress. Every one of us should take pride in this.

However, it also means that there are just as many people in hospital today as there were on December 4, when our acute care system was struggling under the impact of COVID-19. While hospitalizations are declining, the health system is still feeling this strain today, which impacts anyone who needs care, regardless of whether it is from COVID or any other reason.

For example, let’s consider someone who has a heart attack, or someone who falls and breaks their wrist. Both of these require hospital care and have nothing to do with COVID-19.

In both cases, the large number of COVID beds that are currently occupied with patients, and the precautions that must be taken to prevent the spread of the virus in hospital, mean there are fewer beds available when patients arrive.

When we have a high number of COVID-19 patients requiring care, this means that hospital units fill up faster and there are fewer spaces available for those who suffer strokes, heart attacks or other ailments.

If we’re not careful, people who need to be admitted to hospital can then spend longer in the emergency department while waiting for a bed.

This, in turn, can lead emergency departments to fill up faster, challenging their ability to take new arrivals, leaving Albertans with broken bones and other less severe needs in waiting rooms.

These are only two examples. The high numbers of hospitalizations also impacts all patients in other ways, from reducing the number of doctors and nurses available for frontline care, to forcing us to postpone some non-urgent, scheduled surgeries to free up capacity.

Thankfully, Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health have done an incredible job over this past year of ensuring that care is available for people who need it throughout this pandemic.

No one should ignore symptoms of cancer, stroke, heart disease or other important conditions. Everyone should know that if they are in need of urgent care, that care is available.

To keep it that way, it is essential that we keep the restrictions in place for a little while longer, so we can ensure care is readily available for all Albertans across the province, whatever their health needs are.”