Alberta Health has begun to receive a very limited amount of vaccine in the province. These initial doses must be
stored, handled and transported frozen, some at -60°C to -80°C and some at -20°C. These vaccines will be used in
Phases 1, and 2 as described below. As we progress through 2021, Alberta anticipates receiving vaccine that can be
stored, handled and transported between +2°C to +8°C, which will be used in later Phases.
Alberta’s COVID-19 Immunization Program Phases
Vaccine will be in limited supply, therefore, Alberta Health is taking a phased approach and will target key populations
in earlier Phases. Due to the global demand and supply chain challenges, and thus fluctuating vaccine quantities, it is
challenging to determine the timeframes for each of Alberta’s Phases and the program may need to start and stop
based on available supply.
To inform the recommendations around which key populations to include in each Phase of the program, Alberta
Health Services conducted an ethics review, which considered both ethical principles and evidence of burden of
disease. Phase 1 key populations for COVID-19 immunization were chosen in an effort to reduce severe illness and
death while at the same time protecting individuals who are critical to providing care to Albertans experiencing the
highest burden of COVID-19 disease.
Phase 1 Key Populations for COVID-19 Immunization and Estimated Timeframes
Early Phase 1: December
Immunization will be offered to key populations, with a focus on acute care sites with the
highest COVID-19 capacity concerns in Edmonton and Calgary:
Health Care Workers (HCWs) in Intensive Care Units (ICU)
Staff at long-term care (LTC) and designated supportive living (DSL) facilities
Phase 1A: January (timeline subject to change depending on vaccine supply)
Immunization will be offered key populations across the province:
HCWs in ICU
Staff in LTC and DSL facilities
Home care workers
HCWs in emergency departments
All residents of LTC and DSL regardless of age
Phase 1B: February (timeline subject to change depending on vaccine supply)
Immunization will be offered key populations:
Seniors 75 years of age and over, no matter where they live
First Nations, Métis and persons 65 years of age and over living in a First Nations
community or Metis Settlement
Health-care workers in medical, surgical and COVID-19 units or operating room
Note: Dates are subject to vaccine supply.
Phase 2 will continue to target populations at risk. Work to identify sequencing for Phase 2 groups is underway and
decisions will be made in 2021. In Phase 3, it is expected that Albertans will be able to access the vaccine through a
universal COVID-19 Immunization Program.
Immunization Providers in Each Phase
Due to the limited amounts of COVID-19 vaccine, the need for 2 doses per individual, and the cold chain infrastructure
required for distributing the COVID-19 vaccines expected for Phases 1, and 2, Alberta Health Services (Public Health
and Workplace Health and Safety) will lead the implementation of the COVID-19 Immunization Program in partnership
with Indigenous Services Canada: First Nations Inuit Health Branch.
At this time, it is not recommended that community immunization providers purchase ultra-low temperature freezers.
In Phase 3, Alberta expects to have enough refrigerator stable (+2°C to +8°C) COVID-19 vaccine for broader
distribution to immunization partners outside of Alberta Health Services.
- The COVID-19 immunization program could be a start and stop program due to fluctuating vaccine quantities
from global manufacturers. The timeframes above are our targets, but could change due to supply disruptions
outside provincial control. Changes in timeframes will be communicated as they become known.
- Eligibility criteria for COVID-19 vaccine will expand as the quantity of vaccine increases.
- The quantity of COVID-19 vaccine will be limited in Phases 1, and 2. Alberta is using a sequenced approach,
immunizing health care workers and the most vulnerable populations first.
Phase 1 key populations were chosen to reduce severe illness and death, while at the same time
protecting individuals who are critical to providing care to Albertans experiencing the highest burden
of COVID-19 disease.
- AHS Public Health, Workplace Health and Safety, Indigenous Services Canada: First Nations Inuit Health
Branch will be the providers of the COVID-19 vaccine in Phases 1, and 2 due to vaccine storage
- Residents of congregate care (e.g. long term care and designated supportive living) facilities will be offered
COVID-19 immunizations at their residence through the immunization outreach program by Alberta Health
- Other Albertans will be immunized at designated immunization sites, which they will need to travel to. They
will have the opportunity to book an appointment to be immunized.
- It is expected that all Albertans will be able to access the COVID-19 vaccine through their usual community
providers in Phase 3 as part of the universal COVID-19 immunization program. It is anticipated that Phase 3
will begin in summer or fall 2021 or sooner, depending on vaccine inventory levels.
- Vaccines in Phases 1, and 2 will only be licensed either 16 years and older or 18 years of age and older
depending on the vaccine, and will require 2 doses per person for optimal immunity to COVID-19.