With many excited to get out with the stage two reopenings, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney reminds Albertans to get fully vaccinated before letting their guard down.
There may even be a lottery to entice Albertans to do it.
COVID-19 cases continue to fall in the province with just over 3,800 total cases in Alberta which is a 40 percent decrease from the beginning of stage 1 on June 1.
“I’d like to again offer my thanks to every Albertan who has taken the step to get vaccinated, you’ve chosen to protect not only yourself but those around you. We are so much closer to a post-pandemic reality,” Premier Kenney said at Thursday’s media briefing.
Currently, 67.8 percent of Albertans over the age of 12 have been vaccinated with the first dose. That puts the province close to the 70 percent of Albertans needed for stage 3. At that point all restrictions will be lifted.
Premier Kenney also said those citizens who received their first COVID-19 vaccine in April can begin booking their second dose immediately. That means up to 650,000 Albertans can start booking their second doses.
“Every day we can get further ahead of schedule is another day closer to the end of the pandemic,” said the premier.
There potentially could be incentives for Albertans to get vaccinated with the potential of a vaccine lottery coming soon.
“I’ve asked the department of health to come forward with options on incentives including a possible lottery. It has created an uptick in vaccination rates particularly amongst parts of the population across North America who have shown low vaccine rates,” said Kenney.
Manitoba recently launched a lottery and BC is mulling one.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Thursday he was concerned first vaccination rates have been dropping in recent weeks. It could hamper efforts to reach the 70 percent goal for stage 3.
“Look around you, a vast majority of people around you have had it. No one has grown a third eye. It’s safe, it’s effective and it’s helping covid cases go down,” Nenshi said.
Nenshi believes that more needs to be done in order to keep the public safe from COVID-19.
“We really need to hit our second dose numbers and I’m a little bit puzzled as to why we aren’t focusing on the first and second doses. We need to focus on both,” he said.
According to data provided by Premier Kenney, the vaccines are very safe with 96 per cent of COVID-19 cases being diagnosed with the vaccine within two weeks of receiving the first dose. Despite this, vaccine hesitancy still remains an issue, the premier said.
“I had a friend in his 70s pass away as a result of COVID-19 infection and I was told by mutual friends that he hesitated to get his vaccine because he had heard conflicting and confusing information about its safety,” said Kenney.
Kenney advised those hesitant about getting the vaccine to go on official websites and gather validated information and to stop the spread of misinformation.
“Please if you have friends, neighbours or members of your family who are holding back, please politely challenge them. They are putting their own health at risk,” he said.