CANMORE – The COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in the Bow Valley.
On Wednesday (Jan. 6), the first dose of the vaccine was given to Golden Eagle View long-term care resident Judy McKnight at the Canmore General Hospital, while the second dose was given to registered nurse Cat Harris.
According to officials with the Town of Banff, residents of St. Martha's Place long-term care in Banff have been vaccinated at the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital, along with staff.
However, Alberta Health Services will not confirm how many doses of the vaccine were given to long-term care residents or staff at either hospital.
"At this point, we're not giving a facility-by-facility breakdown of vaccinations," wrote AHS director of media relations and issues management for the Calgary zone James Wood in an email.
Bow Valley Regional Housing (BVRH), which operates the Bow River Seniors Lodge in Canmore and Cascade House in Banff, saw its residents begin to receive the Moderna vaccine on Monday (Jan. 11).
BVRH Chief Administrative Officer Ian Wilson said the vast majority of residents at both long-term care homes are "visibly excited" to be getting the Moderna vaccine.
"I think one word to sum this up from my perspective, and probably for everyone, is relief," Wilson said. "The residents will be so much safer in terms of the threat of severe outcomes from the disease."
He said BVRH will not change its enhanced cleaning and safety protocols after residents receive their second doses and reach peak immunity, but will look to provincial direction with respect to easing restrictions that are currently in place.
"We have been safeguarding some of the most at risk people in our community and it takes a toll; it is a huge responsibility," Wilson said. "We still need to socially distance, sanitize our hands and wear masks as much as possible until we have community immunity."
While long-term care staff are a priority group to receive the vaccine, they are not directly included in the immunization work happening at Cascade or the lodge. However, Wilson said additional doses of the vaccine were used in Banff Monday and half the staff at Cascade House were able to be immunized.
"If they have to crack a vial and there are extra doses left, they are not going to waste those doses," he said.
Residents of BVRH long-term care facilities are scheduled to receive their second dose of the vaccine at the beginning of February.
Our lodge residents will soon be able to be immunized against Covid-19! The residents at both Cascade House and Bow...Posted by Bow Valley Regional Housing on Thursday, January 7, 2021
As of Dec. 30, those eligible to receive one of two vaccines approved in Alberta for distribution – Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna – include respiratory therapists; health care workers in intensive care units; staff at long-term care and supportive living facilities; home care workers; health care workers in emergency departments; residents of long-term care and supportive living facilities and paramedics.
Last Monday (Jan. 5), Minister of Health Tyler Shandro said the distribution of the two vaccines begins the work of putting the pandemic behind us.
"Just about three weeks ago, we immunized the first Albertan," Shandro said during a press conference. "Since then, AHS has been steadily ramping up to use the supply of vaccines as we receive them based on priorities in our plan, starting with those who are at the highest risk of severe outcomes.
"I want to emphasize, the roll out of vaccines is a function of the supply we receive. AHS is doing a superb job of that roll out and I want to thank the staff who are giving shots and the AHS management team."
According to AHS, as of Monday (Jan. 11), more than 52,318 Albertans have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Premier Jason Kenney said during a press conference that Alberta is on track to run out of vaccines by the end of next week.
"We have used more than three quarters of the vaccine doses in our stock," Kenney said, adding there is urgency needed to get more doses. "We are now in a position where we can rapidly administer volumes well beyond the doses we are currently being provided with.
"By the end of January, I am confident we will have the capacity to administer 50,000 doses per week and will continue to increase our capacity, partly by partnering with pharmacies."
There were 15 active cases in Banff and Lake Louise; 14 in Canmore; 83 in the MD of Bighorn; 117 in the Stoney Nakoda First Nation and three in Kananaskis Country.
AHS has also confirmed that a resident from Origin at Spring Creek, which is currently experiencing an outbreak of the virus, has died. The Stoney Nakoda First Nation has also reported four deaths among its residents.