This article has been updated to include a response from St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud
St. Albertans aged 75 and older won't get the COVID-19 vaccine in St. Albert, but at participating pharmacies in Edmonton next week.
On Feb. 24, Minister of Health Tyler Shandro said Albertans will be offered COVID-19 vaccines at community pharmacies starting the first week of March.
More than 100 pharmacies in Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary will be participating in the program to start, Shandro said. Only those select pharmacies will give out COVID-19 vaccines due to limited supply, storage and handling requirements.
The minister said the program will be expanded over time as supplies allow, and that people outside of these centres can still get their COVID-19 vaccines through Alberta Health Services. Bookings opened at 8 a.m. on Feb. 24, and you can book an appointment online at www.ahs.ca/covidvaccine or call Health Link (811).
"I want to reassure those eligible Albertans not in or near one of these centres, that they will still be able to receive their doses in the same time frame close to home through AHS," Shandro said.
Blue Cross has a list of all participating pharmacies on its website, including 45 locations in Edmonton. Those in need of a ride from their home in St. Albert can call 211 to connect with a transportation agency.
You must book an appointment with the pharmacy closest to you to get the vaccine, according to the Blue Cross website – no walk-ins allowed. Give them a call to find out when the next available date for an appointment is.
Here's a list of five locations that are about 10 to 15 minutes from St. Albert city limits, with the closest locations listed first:
- Castledowns ARP Pharmacy
- 122-15277 Castledowns Rd. NW Edmonton
- Dolar Drugs 2
- 13211 132 St. NW Edmonton
- Loblaw Pharmacy #1572
- 12350 137 Ave. NW Edmonton
- Shoppers Drug Mart #375
- 16504 95 St. NW Edmonton
- Shoppers Drug Mart #2385
- 1024 Webber Greens Dr. NW Edmonton
More than 100,000 Albertans aged 75 and older have booked their COVID-19 vaccine appointments as of Thursday afternoon, according to AHS. As of Feb. 23, the province has administered 186,572 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to Albertans. Of those, 77,354 Albertans are fully immunized after receiving two doses.
MLA pens letter
Last August, the city’s COVID-19 Recovery Task Force passed a recommendation to council to advocate for the opening of a COVID-19 testing and vaccination site in St. Albert, along with the preparation of an implementation plan. Council passed the motion unanimously on Aug. 17.
On Feb. 26, St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud wrote a letter to Health Minister Tyler Shandro asking him to commit to opening vaccination sites within St. Albert. The letter was also sent to Mayor Cathy Heron, St. Albert-Morinville MLA Dale Nally and Edmonton-City Centre MLA David Shepard.
“While vaccinations booked through Alberta Health Services are being offered in a retail space on 137th Avenue, and privately owned pharmacies in Edmonton are also offering vaccinations, those sites are a prohibitive distance away for the elderly, homebound, disabled and low income populations in the area,” Renaud wrote.
It takes more than an hour to get to the nearest vaccination site by public transit from downtown St. Albert, which is “prohibitive for those who do not drive or who do not have access to a vehicle,” she wrote.
“For individuals who are at high risk from COVID-19, a lengthy drive to a different community can also serve as a disincentive against getting inoculated, even when they may have access to a personal vehicle. In order to support a safe reopening of our economy and businesses, it is essential to reduce barriers and disincentives against vaccination.”
For the approximately 5,000 people over the age of 75 living in St. Albert, being forced to leave the city to get the vaccine will mean some will not be able to access “these life-saving shots,” she wrote.
“Many of these people are physically unable to stand in line outside for hours awaiting their appointments at the current AHS sites, as seen Feb. 25 at the 13530-137 Ave. location nearest to St. Albert.”
The Gazette has reached out to the Minister of Health's office for a response.