COVID-19 Updates: State of public health emergency declared.
Check against delivery.
Thank you, Tom, for this introduction. I have the privilege of serving as Alberta’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health on a temporary basis.
And I am very pleased to stand in for Dr. Hinshaw who is taking some well-deserved free time with her family this week.
The good news that I have to bring today is that we continue to see a decline in our numbers of COVID cases on a daily basis all across Alberta.
Over the last 24 hours, we’ve identified 127 new cases of COVID-19, and completed more than 4,400 tests.
Our positivity rate has declined to about 2.9%.
And we have identified 85 additional cases of variants of concern in these last 24 hours.
Right now, we are just over 2,800 active cases provincewide, which is the lowest that it’s been since October 15 of last year.
There’s currently active outbreaks or alerts in 216 schools, which represent 9% of all the schools in the province.
Hospitalizations continue to decline as well. There are now 271 people being treated for COVID-19 in hospital, including 68 in the ICU.
Sadly, we had 4 new deaths reported to Alberta Health in the last 24 hours, so I offer my sincere condolences to the families and the friends of these individuals.
As of June 13, we had administered more than 3.4 million doses of COVID vaccine to Albertans, including 46,000 yesterday alone.
Over 69% of Albertans over the age of 12 have now received at least one dose, and 22% are fully vaccinated with both, so we are getting very close to our objective of 70%.
The Open for Summer lottery that was announced yesterday is one additional way to bring us closer to the goal of collectively returning to a more normal life, and I hope it will inspire even more Albertans to get vaccinated over the coming weeks.
The more people who get their shot, the stronger the protection we will all have collectively in the weeks and months ahead. If you have not already booked your shot, please do so as soon as possible.
You can book at participating pharmacies, through AHS online or by calling 811. There are even walk-in vaccination clinics that are opening across Alberta, waiting for you.
Today I would like to take a little bit of time to talk about vaccine safety and supply.
If you are still unsure of whether to get vaccinated or worried about vaccine safety, I encourage you to arm yourself with accurate information.
Vaccines are safe, effective and they do save lives.
In Canada we benefit from a thorough scientific review process for safety, efficacy and quality.
Within Canada and Alberta, we also have a robust surveillance system in place that monitors adverse events.
To date, we have had 559 adverse events reported to Alberta Health, which represents roughly .015% of all people who have been vaccinated who experienced an adverse event.
And most of these were mainly minor symptoms such as pain, headache, mild fevers, and severe adverse reactions have been exceedingly rare.
With a global experience now, when we look around the world, where hundreds of millions of doses have been given, the experience of these vaccines really reassure us that we’re offering something that will protect you.
Not only just protect you, but is safe to receive for yourself and your loved ones.
We are constantly watching the global experience, as we analyze the data that comes to us on a nearly daily basis from across Canada and around the world.
If you continue to have some concerns related to the vaccine, please seek out credible sources, like a healthcare professional that you trust, or a loved one who has already received their vaccine, and ask those questions.
And then hopefully, you will be ready to go and register for your first dose.
And once you have received the first dose, it will be important then to start thinking about the second one, because the second one is what will give us a sustainable recovery from this pandemic experience.
One thing I’ve learned over my experience as a public health officer is that the small steps taken collectively can make a huge difference for the benefit of everyone.
We are incredibly fortunate to have vaccines that are as effective as they have turned out to be.
Because certainly at the beginning, we didn’t know where we would be landing in this area.
After two doses of the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine, we are noticing really fabulous effectiveness in the 90% range.
And even against the new variants of concern, after people have had their two doses, there was new data that came out of the U.K. today that showed with Pfizer two doses, 88% protection plus against the new Delta variant.
This is really good news that we should use to comfort ourselves that we are headed in the right direction.
The second dose is really critical to consolidate the gains. We are hoping to maintain the momentum, and we are working really hard to find ways to accelerate access to the second doses to all Albertans so that we get to our goal as soon as possible.
I know also that some Albertans who’ve received the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine for their first dose have been wondering whether it matters which type of mRNA vaccine they receive as a second dose.
Both Pfizer and Moderna use the same mRNA technology and they are considered now to be interchangeable.
Even though there’s not a lot of solid evidence in regard to those particular two vaccines, we in public health have a lot of experience interchanging vaccines made by different companies.
Sometimes when one vaccine is no longer available and there’s a shortage, we substitute - a lot of the childhood vaccines, the hepatitis vaccines - so we have a lot of experience.
Recently, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization has stated that regardless of which vaccine you received for your first dose, it is safe to receive a different one for your second one.
So whichever vaccine you receive, be confident that you’re receiving great protection in a safe way against the virus.
We all want to move on from this pandemic as soon as possible, and the only way to do that sustainably will be for as many people as possible to build full immunity against the virus.
Vaccines have the power to eradicate disease, but only if we work together to put them to good use.
In the meantime, please keep safe, follow the rules and protect each other for just a little while longer, because we are very close.
Thank you very much, and I’ll be happy to take questions from everyone.