Province of Alberta doesn’t anticipate vaccinating general public until fall

Photo courtesy: Alberta Government

The provincial timeline for COVID-19 immunization in Alberta has shed some light on one of the challenges facing the CFL’s return in 2021.

Alberta recently unveiled its provincial plan for distributing the vaccine. It involves three phases, the first of which is currently underway. According to the province, the timeline is subject to change depending on vaccine supply.

The province is immunizing key populations beginning with a “focus on acute care sites with the highest COVID-19 capacity concerns in Edmonton and Calgary.” Those already being vaccinated include ICU healthcare workers, respiratory therapists, and staff members in long-term care facilities.

Phase one is scheduled to continue through February 2021 with home care workers, health-care workers, residents of long-term care facilities, and the elderly receiving the vaccine.

Phase two is set to run from April through September with the province working to identify sequencing for immunization. Roll-out to the general public is supposed to begin in the fall following the completion of phase two.

The vaccination of the general public is obviously a key step for the return of the CFL in 2021. Having fans in the stands is essential for the league to collect the gate revenue on which it relies to be financially viable.

Two of the CFL’s nine teams reside in Alberta, which could prove problematic if the general public cannot receive vaccinations until the fall. The pre-season is supposed to begin on May 23, while the regular season is slated to start on June 10.

B.C. plans to begin immunizing the general public “following all priority groups,” which is supposed to be complete by March. Saskatchewan is projecting that the vaccine will be available to the general population by April.

Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec have yet to set a timeline for vaccinating the general public.

According to the federal government, any Canadian who wants the vaccine will have it by the fall.

COVID-19 vaccines will be available to everyone in Canada who are recommended to get the vaccine by federal, provincial and territorial public health bodies. Doses of the vaccines will be distributed in Canada in phases, which began in December 2020. Assuming the continued supply of safe and effective vaccines, it’s expected there will be enough vaccines to immunize everyone for whom vaccines are approved and recommended. We anticipate this will be accomplished by September of 2021.

It’s possible that Alberta’s timeline for immunization is overly cautious and the vaccination of the general public will commence before the fall. If not, the CFL will have major obstacles to overcome hosting fans in at least two of its nine facilities.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.