LETHBRIDGE, AB – Alberta is extending the period of time between when you’ll receive your first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says anyone who books a first dose before March 10 will still get a second shot within the current 42 day window.

However, first dose appointments booked after March 10 will be subject to the four-month window.

Hinshaw says the aim is to increase the number of first doses given out.

“The evidence for COVID-19 is constantly evolving. We’ve seen in research from other jurisdictions that one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine offers a huge boost in immunity, to at least 80 per cent protection. We will continue to adjust our vaccination plan to best protect Albertans, reflecting the real-time research being done.” – Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health

Hinshaw says Alberta is also expecting a shipment of the newly approved AstraZeneca vaccine though she isn’t exactly sure how many doses will arrive or when. She says she hopes to have an update soon on how they’ll be distributed.

She also announced a variant outbreak at Churchill Manor in Edmonton where 27 staff and residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

The first case was detected on Friday.

Of those cases, 19 of them are a variant strain.

Closer to home, there were 31 new COVID cases confirmed in the South Zone of Alberta Health Services over the past day and 27 of them were in Lethbridge.

There are now 218 active cases in the city.

Two additional South Zone deaths were reported as well, one in Cardston County and one in the MD of Pincher Creek.