ALBERTA— The number of active COVID-19 cases in Cochrane has seen a significant spike.
As of the end of the day Tuesday (March 2) there were a reported 17 active cases of COVID-19 in the town. To date, Cochrane has reported 338 cases of the virus— Two people have died and 319 people have recovered.
Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced Tuesday changes designed to increase the rate of vaccination distribution in Alberta are underway.
A rapid increase in vaccine distribution has been made possible by the approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine by Health Canada. Hinshaw said, no shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccine have arrived in Alberta to date, but the province is hoping to see a delivery next week.
AstraZeneca joins the previously approved Moderna and Pfizer vaccines that have been approved. Hinshaw said, all three vaccines have been proven to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 and presenting serious health outcomes.
The province is currently working to confirm how many doses it will receive and when the vaccine will arrive in Alberta.
An additional step in increasing the vaccine rollout involves the extended length of time between doses based on recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. Hinshaw said this decision was made with the intention of providing the first dose of the vaccine to as many Albertans who choose to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Starting Wednesday (March 10) anyone who books their first dose will have their second dose timeline extended up to four months. Going forward Albertans will only be able to book the first appointment and will receive a reminder to book their second dose at a later date.
Hinshaw noted the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines appear to provide up to 80 per cent protection to those who have received their first dose.
“The evidence about COVID-19 is constantly evolving, and it is critical we use the most up to date information as we refine our approach,” Hinshaw said. “This change will significantly increase how quickly we can offer Albertans the protection of their first dose. The more people we can offer this protection to in the coming weeks and months the more effective we will be in stopping the spread.”
Hinshaw said the province is currently working through the anticipated number of vaccines and Albertans who will participate in each phase of the vaccine rollout. Nationally an expectation has been set that vaccines will be available for those who choose to receive their first dose by the summer.
“Vaccines do two things— Vaccines protect the person who gets them and vaccines protect those around them,” Hinshaw said. “It is really important to remember if we can give that 70 to 80 per cent protection to as many Albertans as possible as quickly as possible that provides us with the greatest benefit overall.”
To date, the province has administered 255,280 doses of vaccine. More than 88,000 Albertans have been fully immunized with two doses.
In Alberta, 402 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the last 24 hours after the completion of 10,410 tests.
The provincial testing positivity rate sits at 3.9 per cent.
There are currently 251 COVID-related hospitalizations, including 48 in intensive care units.
The province reported 12 additional COVID-related deaths in the last 24 hours. To date, 1,902 deaths have been recorded in Alberta.
There are 4,649 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.