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Province, doctors working together to vaccinate more Albertans – Red Deer Advocate



Alberta Health is aiming to get doctors on their side as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

In a joint statement, Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro and Alberta Medical Association president Paul Boucher announced a partnership between the two groups.

“It is now time to form a partnership between the Government of Alberta and the 11,000 physicians who call our province home to get as many vaccines into the arms of Albertans as quickly as possible,” the statement read.

“Our first priority is to begin a conversation with Albertans about getting the vaccine. We know that some Albertans may be hesitant to get the vaccine. But we also know that Albertans want to protect their loved ones. That’s why we will work together to speak directly to Albertans about the importance of taking the vaccine.”

The statement also said that down the road, there is a hope that physicians can be involved in the COVID-19 vaccine deployment plan. It also notes that doctors need to be included on the vaccine prioritization list.

“We need to make sure that Alberta’s primary care providers are prepared to respond to the millions of Albertans who will need to be vaccinated safely,” the statement read.

Earlier this year, more than 200 doctors in Alberta signed a letter asking for the prioritization of health-care staff who work directly with patients on a dedicated COVID-19 unit.

The doctors, who include primary care physicians, general internists and medical subspecialists, said they have stepped forward to care for patients on the specialized units. They say the units have been operating since last spring.

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First Nations people in Manitoba over age of 75 now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines – CTV News



The province has opened up vaccine eligibility to include any First Nations person in Manitoba over the age of 75.

On Wednesday, Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of Manitoba’s Vaccine Implementation Task Force, said those looking to book appointments can call 1-844-626-8222 to book an appointment. Anyone calling will need to provide the numbers on their health card.

The First Nations people eligibility includes both on and off-reserve residents.

The province also announced that Manitobans over the age of 95 are now included in the vaccine eligibility.

READ MORE: Manitoba getting ready to open vaccinations to general public

The 20-year difference in eligibility of the general population and First Nations people is due to the disproportionate effect COVID-19 is having on First Nations people, said Dr. Marcia Anderson, the public health lead of the Manitoba First Nation Pandemic Response Coordination Team.

She said First Nations people are experiencing more severe illness due to COVID-19, and at younger ages.

Manitobans are asked to only call if they are in these eligibility groups.


Anderson said First Nations people looking to get a vaccine dose will be asked to verify their identity. She said this is because there have been past cases where people falsely claim to be First Nations.

“We want to make sure that this is done in a way that is safe for people, and does not exclude our First Nations relatives who – because of the complicated and various process of colonization – do not have Indian status cards.”

Anderson said in the coming weeks, those who call to book a vaccine appointment and self-identify as First Nations will be transferred to a specialized team at the call centre.

“These specialists will have additional training in cultural safety to ensure that they support the caller and facilitate access to an appointment to those who are eligible,” Anderson said, adding callers will be asked if they have their own status card or number.

If the caller does not have a status card or number, Anderson said they will be asked if they can provide a status card or number from a first-degree relative – such as a parent, grandparent or sibling.

She said there will be a process to deal with cases where First Nations people do not have any relatives with a status card or number.

“Our goal will be to ensure that all First Nations people, regardless of their status under the Indian Act, have equitable access to the vaccine,” Anderson said. “This process is not perfect, but it will help make sure that First Nations people do have access to the vaccine as soon as possible.” 

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Alberta records its largest daily case count since early February, adds 430 new infections – CTV Edmonton



Alberta recorded its largest daily increase in new COVID-19 cases since near the start of the month with 430 new infections reported on Wednesday. 

The increase in the largest in one day since the 582 reported on Feb. 4.

Active cases continued to fall, down by 25 to 4,545, a level last seen in late October. 

The number of active cases continues to decline but the rate of decrease has tailed off in the last week, with no triple-digit decreases since Feb. 17 and small increases recorded twice in the past week.

The province also reported 13 deaths, bringing its total to 1,866. Due to delays in death reporting only two of the deaths reported Wednesday occured in February, with five of them going back to December of 2020.

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients also continued its downwards trend with 307 reported in hospital, down 20 from Tuesday. The number of patients in intensive care units rose by five, up to 56. 

Alberta reported a 4.64 per cent test positivity on based on 9,467 tests. 

The province reported 22 new variant cases of COVID-19, all of them the B.1.1.7 “U.K.” variant. Eighteen of those cases were recorded in the Calgary health zone, which is significantly larger than the city itself.

More than 186,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered so far.

Dr. Hinshaw returns Monday, March 1, for an in-person update.

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Computer programmer shares workaround to Alberta COVID-19 vaccine booking issues – Global News



UPDATE: As of 7 p.m. Wednesday, it appeared the website had been changed and the workaround was no longer effective.

Hundreds of people said they were able to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments for their loved ones Wednesday thanks to a workaround published online by a computer programmer.

It all started Wednesday morning when Kory Mathewson‘s family logged on to the Alberta Health Services website to book appointments for Grandma Mufty and Grandpa Bill.

The first appointment was booked after a few tries but getting the second was more difficult.

Like so many other Albertans, once logging onto the website and putting in the postal code, the website stopped working for Mathewson.

Read more:
Alberta COVID-19 vaccine booking site ‘experiencing very high volumes’ as appointments open to those 75 and older

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Being a computer programmer and developer, Mathewson checked out the coding of the website.

He discovered that he could alter the code and bypass the postal code section, going straight to the patient information form.

By doing so, Mathewson was quickly able to book an appointment.

Upon getting the confirmation, he describes feeling immediate relief.

“It’s exactly that. It’s like: ‘Finally! I don’t have to worry.’”

After double checking the process and simplifying it for a less tech-savvy audience, Mathewson posted the workaround to Twitter in hopes of helping others do the same.

“It was like, ‘OK, how do we make this as easy as possible for people?’ You know, people that don’t know code,” Mathewson told Global News.

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Within hours, hundreds of Albertans responded saying the hack had worked for them and they were also able to book appointments for their loved ones.

However, as of 7 p.m. it appeared the website had been changed and the workaround was no longer effective.

In a series of messages on Twitter Wednesday night, AHS said it had “put additional queuing software in place to help manage the volume of users on the AHS COVID-19 immunization booking tool.

“This software will indicate an estimated wait time, and where each individual is in the booking queue to give people the option to continue booking, or to try again later.”

As of 7 p.m., 43,000 eligible seniors 75 and over had booked appointments using the immunization tool and 811 since it went live at 8 a.m., AHS said.

A spokesperson for AHS told Global News that the queueing system has “nothing to do with the workaround” shared on Twitter.

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A Twitter user created a video walking through the steps to show others how to do it in a visual way.

“It was a real community effort and all the different people kind of pulled together to make this solution happen,” said Mathewson.

Read more:
Albertans 75 and older can book COVID-19 vaccine appointments starting 8 a.m. Wednesday

The former Edmontonian believes Alberta Health Services could use the tool to fix the delays for all Albertans.

“In my opinion, this seems like a relatively straightforward fix.”

“I’m more than happy to be connected with the people at AHS to make this happen,” Mathewson said. “Part of the reason that I’m here is to sort of communicate that there are great developers like myself that are ready to help make this possible and make this as frictionless and as easy as possible for all Albertans.”

Click to play video 'Alberta Health Minister says AHS is ‘fixing the the problems’ with COVID-19 vaccine booking system'

Alberta Health Minister says AHS is ‘fixing the the problems’ with COVID-19 vaccine booking system

Alberta Health Minister says AHS is ‘fixing the the problems’ with COVID-19 vaccine booking system

In a statement, Alberta Health Services confirmed the appointments booked using the workaround were official but that “this is not a permanent solution.”

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“The AHS online immunization booking tool continues to experience extremely high volumes and our IT teams are working to find a way to make the process as fast and efficient as possible for everyone.”

Read more:
Should all seniors get the COVID-19 vaccine before essential workers?

In the meantime, Mathewson and his brother Kyle say they’ll continue to help others looking to book appointments.

“I did this for my grandparents but really, this is for all the grandparents of Alberta,” said Mathewson.

“There’s a lot of people that want this and want to be safe. And hopefully this gets them one step closer and takes away that, ‘when is it going to happen?’”

Mufty and Bill Mathewson.

Courtesy/Kory Mathewson

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

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