Alberta has received its first shipment of the Janssen Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
In an unrelated press conference Friday, Premier Jason Kenney said after many months of lobbying the federal government for the one-dose vaccine, the province has finally received 5,000 doses.
“We have heard that some Albertans would consider getting protected if the Janssen vaccine was made available,” Kenney said, adding they expect 15,000 more doses in the near future.
“We have made doses available and now we need these Albertans to follow through and get vaccinated. These doses are a start; we will continue advocating for more Janssen vaccine as we do everything we can to get more Albertans vaccinated.”
As of Friday, Albertans 18 years and older can book appointments to receive the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine by calling 811. Due to limited supply, the Janssen vaccine will only be administered at Alberta Health Services (AHS) clinics in select locations across the province.
The news about the single-shot vaccine comes as the province’s COVID-19 vaccine rate continues to rise.
The premier remarked Friday that Alberta has jumped from nearly 78 per cent of the eligible population with one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, to about 88 percent as of Friday. About 82 per cent of Albertans 12 and over are fully vaccinated.
“I think the best news over the last few months is a significant increase in the rate of vaccination in Alberta,” Kenney said.
“We’ve closed the gap between the first and second dose… I think that puts us in a much stronger position.”
Kenney added that doesn’t change the need for a cautious approach with winter around the corner.
In its latest report on Friday, Alberta reported 841 new cases of COVID-19 – 470 from Wednesday and 371 on Thursday. There are 5,745 active cases of the virus. There are also 554 people in hospital with the virus, including 110 in intensive care.
“In the last couple of days, we have seen the positivity rate at about 4.1, 4.3 per cent. That’s much lower than it was a month ago. Broadly speaking, the trends have been positive. We’ve seen a significant reduction in pressure in hospitals,” Kenney said.
“There is still real pressure. We still have about 110 COVID-19 patients in ICU. We’re still at 214 total ICU patients, which is 124 per cent of our baseline capacity.
“That’s why Albertans need to continue to be cautious… We believe the current policy setting has served the province well in getting the fourth wave well under control.”
There were also seven new deaths reported due to the implications of COVID-19, bringing the province’s death toll to 3,171.
In the Central zone, there are 1,008 active cases of the virus, with 118 people in hospital and nine in the ICU.
According to geospatial mapping on the provincial government’s website, Red Deer is down from Wednesday’s 214 active cases of the virus, to 193 active cases as of Friday.
Camrose has 78 active cases, Lacombe has 71, Lacombe County sits at 58, Clearwater County has 56, Red Deer County has 54 and Mountain View County has 53.
Wetaskiwin has 51, Olds has 37, Sylvan Lake sits at 35, Kneehill County has 24, Camrose County has 22, and the County of Stettler has 18.
On the local geographic area map, Wetaskiwin County, including Maskwacis has 108 active, while Ponoka County has 20 and Rimbey, including parts of West Ponoka County and partial Lacombe County, has 13.