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Expand temporary COVID-19 vaccination clinics, Mayor Nenshi says

Calgary’s mayor would like to see the province’s temporary vaccination clinics “massively expanded” as the Alberta re-opening plan kicks off today.

In Monday’s combined meeting of council, Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Sue Henry said there’s been a significant improvement in overall COVID-19 cases counts in Calgary.

Chief Henry pointed to a drop in active cases from 11,500 on May 11 to 3,300 on May 31.

“While not insignificant, this is a 75 per cent reduction from our peak in less than three weeks, which is an unprecedented rate of decrease in this pandemic,” she said.

“The key factor in this decrease appears to be very much tied to our expansion of vaccine eligibility, and the increasing percentage of our population receiving their first dose.”

Alberta begins stage one of the re-opening plan June 1. This means outdoor gatherings jump up to 10, patios re-open, wellness services can be booked again and retail capacity is up to 15 per cent of fire code.

“Overall, things are improving, but we are not fully out of the woods yet, especially in terms of our hospitalizations, and ICU admissions,” Chief Henry said.

“We know that the outcomes of COVID can still be very severe, especially for those that are not yet vaccinated, as this can still put a very real strain on our healthcare system. So, it is not time to abandon all caution.”

Vaccines are key to keeping COVID-19 numbers down: City

Chief Henry said most Calgary geographic areas are at or over the 50 per cent mark for vaccines.  Some have passed the 60 per cent mark.

Northeast and east Calgary are still lagging behind the rest of the city in vaccination rate. CITY OF CALGARY

The map Henry presented in council continues to show north and east Calgary lagging behind the rest of the city.

“We know there are some unique barriers for residents in some communities, and we are working with our partners to help address this, so we can make vaccines as accessible as possible for all Calgarians,” she said.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said that the vaccines have done what we expected them to do – get us out of the pandemic. But he acknowledged some think it’s too much too soon.

He said the city must do everything to support vaccine rollout. Nenshi noted the province’s opening of a drive-thru clinic and the introduction of temporary vaccine clinics.

“We’re starting a series of temporary vaccination clinics. I would like to see that massively expanded. I want to see clinics at five o’clock in the morning when people are on their way to shift work. I want to see them at 10 o’clock at night, as people are coming home,” he said.

“I want to see them at busy train stations, not just drive throughs. Part of the problem is people don’t have cars.”

Nenshi is worried there’s a little too much reliance on the first dose of vaccine. The effort should be on second dose.

“We have a ton of work to do to convince people to get their second dose,” he said.

The province is expected to deliver a second dose plan in the near future.