Preparing for COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Alberta

Alberta’s government is fully prepared to receive and distribute COVID-19 vaccines and up to 435,000 Albertans will be offered a vaccine in the first quarter of 2021.

Planning and preparation is well-advanced. Alberta is in a prime position to implement a phased immunization program as soon as vaccines become available.

To support this ongoing work, the Alberta government has appointed a new COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force. Chaired by the deputy minister of Municipal Affairs, retired Lt.-Gen. Paul Wynnyk, the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force will build on the steps that Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services have already taken to prepare for the delivery of a vaccine.

Jason Kenney, Premier

“Alberta is ready to roll out a life-saving vaccine from Day 1. We have a well-developed plan, that begins with vaccinating the most vulnerable. Our efforts will be led by the former commander of the Canadian Army, with input from top public health experts.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

“We have implemented strong, targeted measures necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19, while planning for the availability of a safe and effective vaccine once it is ready. This new task force will build off the extensive work that health officials have done to ensure that Albertans get immunized as quickly as possible, once a vaccine is available.”

Currently, no COVID-19 vaccines are approved by Health Canada. Once approved, Alberta anticipates receiving enough doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to initially immunize up to 435,000 Albertans who are most at-risk, between January and March 2021.

Paul Wynnyk, chair, COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force

Immunization will be phased, starting with Phase 1 in early January, once vaccines are received. Those vaccinated in Phase 1 include long-term care and designated supported living residents and staff in those facilities, on-reserve First Nations individuals over age 65, seniors aged 75 and older, and health-care workers most needed to ensure workforce capacity and who are most likely to transmit COVID-19 to those at greatest risk.

Phase 2 is expected to begin by April 2021 and will again be targeted to prioritized populations. Phase 3 will involve rolling out vaccinations to the general Alberta population, anticipated to start by fall 2021.

In the early stages of the pandemic, the Provincial Operations Centre, under the leadership of Wynnyk, was part of a successful partnership with Alberta Health Services to procure and distribute masks, gowns, gloves and face shields amid a global rush for personal protective equipment (PPE).

The COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force members will include cross-government expertise in operations and logistics, federal-provincial relations, health and clinical domains, public health and immunization, ethics and information technology and data.