More Alberta doctors to start offering COVID-19 vaccines in clinics

Several Alberta doctors are reacting to the province's three-step plan to lift COVID-19 restrictions, worried not enough people are fully vaccinated with two doses. Breanna Karstens-Smith explains.

After an April pilot project saw 20 Alberta physician clinics offer COVID-19 vaccines, 60 more offices are being added “in the coming weeks.”

Patients who are eligible for vaccination will be contacted by their clinic, the province said.

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Participating clinics will offer the Moderna vaccine at this time, with about 8,200 doses expected to be administered by family physicians, staff and teams, the Friday government news release explained.

It said new billing codes have been added to the schedule of medical benefits to allow physicians to bill for this service.

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So far, more than 2.6 million doses of vaccine have been administered by Alberta Health Services, pharmacies and clinics.

Alberta’s “Open For Summer” strategy is contingent on continued vaccine uptake, linking each step of reopening to a specific vaccination threshold.

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For instance, Stage 3 requires 70 per cent of eligible Albertans over 12 to have at least one dose of vaccine.

“Most health restrictions, including the ban on indoor social gatherings, will be history,” Premier Jason Kenney said on Tuesday. Stage 3 is expected to begin in early July.

“I appreciate all the hard work that has gone into getting the vaccine into community clinics,” said Dr. Paul Boucher, president of the Alberta Medical Association.

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“Our community physicians are a trusted source of information and are uniquely positioned to help patients understand the benefits of vaccination.

“I am confident that their expertise will help reach patients that might not otherwise seek to be vaccinated and will add significant capacity to the vaccination effort.”

Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccine program will look to expand the number of participating clinics as the vaccine supply increases, the province said.

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“We’re delighted that many more Albertans now have the option of going to their trusted family doctor to discuss COVID-19 vaccination and potentially receive the vaccine in their local clinic,” said Dr. Ernst Greyvenstein, Primary Care Network physician lead in the Calgary zone.

“Family physicians have a unique and critical role to play in helping to educate patients and address vaccine hesitancy.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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