An Okotoks couple who each received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine while wintering in Arizona is raising concerns that snowbirds aren’t being included in Alberta’s vaccine data.
Since returning to Canada fully immunized, Rae Gilbert and her husband have spoken with a pharmacist and local health provider in an attempt to add themselves to the provincial vaccine data. Although their information was taken down, Gilbert said it wasn’t confirmed whether or not they would be counted in the numbers.
She said she knows the two of them aren’t the only snowbirds concerned this could impact the province’s reopening plan.
“We feel it’s very important to get counted in these numbers because we want to move forward and to get things back to normal,” Gilbert said on Wednesday.
“I just don’t think there’s enough information out there for people like myself to make sure we are being counted.”
Bob Holinski, a Calgary snowbird who was also vaccinated during his time in Arizona, said his concern grew when Premier Jason Kenney told the province earlier this week that Stage 3 of the reopening plan could be delayed due to diminished demand for first doses.
“While they’re trying to get vaccine numbers up, there is a group of us who are invisible,” Holinski said, adding that he was surprised immunization data wasn’t taken upon his return to the country when he submitted a negative COVID-19 test result.
“The onus is on us to wave our hand and say ‘hey, I’m good.’ And it would be a shame if there were thousands of people out there who haven’t been counted that should be.”
The premier said on Monday that Alberta had reached a “critical point” in its vaccine rollout, “where every single person who decides to get the first dose is going to be able to accelerate the full openness of Alberta.”
Since the federal government doesn’t request immunization information for entry into Canada, the provinces are filling the gap, Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said in a statement.
“While we do not have an exact public figure available for the number of Albertans immunized outside the country, this is expected to be relatively small, compared to the more than three million doses administered in Alberta to date,” McMillan said.
For now, anyone who was vaccinated in another country can show the written record to their health-care provider to have their record updated, he said. Alberta Health is currently working on an easier process for them to update their immunization records.
“Once their information is recorded into the system, it will be reflected in the online data,” McMillan said.
At least 2,664,802 Albertans need to receive a first dose of vaccine to reach the 70 per cent threshold that triggers a two-week lag before the province enters the third and final phase of reopening.
Another 105,079 first shots still need to be administered to reach this benchmark, as 2,559,723 Albertans have gotten at least one jab. There are 598,139 second doses also recorded.