Premier Jason Kenney wears a mask as he tours the now opened mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Edmonton. Photo credit to Government of Alberta.
LETHBRIDGE, AB – Premier Jason Kenney says COVID-19 vaccines are Alberta’s ticket back to recovery and freedom.
Kenney provided another update on the province’s vaccine roll out late Monday morning (Apr. 12), opening up large immunization clinics now in Calgary and Edmonton.
A similar clinic at Lethbridge Exhibition Park is already open for vaccine appointments.
The Premier says hopefully some restrictions can be lifted over the next few weeks if new case numbers steadily decline.
“If Albertans rise to the challenge and do everything they can to stop social interaction and transmission, I believe we’ll be on track, about a month from now, to look at relaxing measures as we have the protective effect of the vaccines,” Kenney stated.
Kenney says lifting health measures now would be irresponsible and risk “blowing up” Alberta’s health care system.
Alberta has been seeing a steady increase in new COVID-19 cases for the past few weeks, with variants of concern now making up the majority of active cases in the province.
Kenney says the restrictions are in place to “buy us time to get enough Albertans vaccinated so we can finally get through this thing and back to normal this summer.”
As of Sunday, more than 850,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered province-wide. Kenney says Alberta Health Services has the capacity to inoculate 400,000 to 500,000 people a week if vaccine supply keeps pace.
“More doses means catching up to the variant’s spread,” Kenney said. “Once the vaccines beat the variants, we get our freedom back.”
The Premier also said Monday that by the end of June the province anticipates two-thirds of adult Albertans will be vaccinated and by September that number will be up to three-quarters with protective immunity, either through vaccinations or natural infections.
“We’re entering the end of a long and tiring journey. It is (vaccines) our path to recovery and freedom. Right now we’re in a transition period fighting to keep control of the virus just a little while longer, until it’s vanquished by vaccines,” says the Premier.
Kenney says as more people become immune, Albertans will be able to get back to normal faster. “When about half of us have immunity, we’re hoping to be able to raise capacity limits for gatherings. We’re anticipating we’ll be able to gather together in larger groups. Some restrictions may remain, but not anything like right now. Once two-thirds of us have immunity, we’ll start to feel back to normal.”