Since the provincial COVID-19 immunization program began on Dec. 14, 2020, Alberta Health Services (AHS) has provided tens of thousands of healthcare workers, long term care (LTC) and designated supportive living (DSL) residents with their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
With not enough vaccine to offer immunizations to everyone at the same time, Alberta Health established a phased approach aligned with anticipated vaccine supply.
Working within the immunization allocation parameters outlined by Alberta Health, AHS identified several groups of healthcare workers to be included in the initial phase of roll out. These groups were selected to support acute care capacity and to protect populations at highest risk of severe outcomes. This includes those who provide care to residents in LTC and DSL, as well as home care staff, to help ensure their higher-risk clients would be able to remain in their homes and prevent hospital admissions.
Healthcare workers, including physicians, were also sequenced with consideration of the extent to which immunizing a particular group would contribute to a combination of the following:
Using the criteria above, Alberta Health, with input from Alberta Health Services, identified the key populations to be included in the province's phased immunization program. Exact amounts and timelines are subject to change. The approach will be amended as needed depending on vaccine supply.
The COVID-19 Vaccine Sequencing for Healthcare Workers Committee was established by AHS’ Executive Leadership Team to support the implementation of COVID-19 immunization to healthcare workers, following the direction from the Government of Alberta
The committee develops recommendations for Alberta Health regarding the sequence by which healthcare workers should be offered COVID-19 immunization for future phases of vaccine roll out, in order to best support the goals of the overarching pandemic response. This includes minimizing serious illness and overall deaths, while limiting impacts on society due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the key functions of the committee is to determine whether specific groups of healthcare workers, who feel they should be included in a designated phase, should be included in these groups for the purpose of vaccine sequencing. Recommendations from the committee are intended for final decision-making by ELT and the CEO.
The committee took a principle-based approach as follows:
We truly wish that everyone could be immunized right away. The reality is that it’s going to take many months for all healthcare workers to be immunized. Everyone will be offered COVID-19 immunization, and as soon as vaccine is made available.