More than 20,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 appointments booked in Alberta on first day of lowered age eligibility

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Alberta Health Services has seen a large uptick in people booking appointments for a COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine on the first day the eligible age to do so was dropped to 40.

The provincial government announced Monday that starting Tuesday everyone born in 1981 or earlier could receive an AstraZeneca shot. Doses were previously only available to those aged 55 and older.

As of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, 24,500 people had booked to receive their vaccine online and over the phone, said AHS spokesman Kerry Williamson. He said 6,500 appointments were booked in the Edmonton Zone and 15,000 were booked in the Calgary Zone.

“This is a higher uptake in one morning, than over the entirety of last week, when eligibility was limited to Albertans aged 55 and over,” said Williamson in an email. “For context, 4,525 people received the AstraZeneca vaccine in Edmonton, and 5,559 people received AstraZeneca in Calgary, between April 12 and April 18.”

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Williamson said about 9,000 people were in the queue to book their appointment online when the tool went live at 8 a.m. There were no reported issues with the digital booking system after AHS experienced delays and backlogs during previous stages of the vaccine roll-out. Williamson said the average wait Tuesday morning was about 10 minutes.

“Health Link experienced a minor issue shortly after 8 a.m., however that was resolved quickly and people can continue to book appointments by dialling 811,” said Williamson

In addition to online bookings and calling 811 there are walk-in appointments available at Edmonton’s Expo Centre and Calgary’s Telus Convention Centre. Williamson said these appointments are limited and people are urged to make appointments.

Reports have surfaced online of people having to wait in long lines for walk-in appointments at the Expo Centre. Williamson said there could be waits for anyone who does not book ahead.

This past weekend the Expo Centre distributed doses to 216 drop-ins on Saturday and 233 on Sunday. On Monday, Williamson said they were preparing to administer 500 drop-in doses and 500 through appointments a day as eligibility expanded Tuesday.

More to come…

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