With the vast majority of COVID-19 cases identified in the province in recent weeks involving Albertans who have decided not to be vaccinated, questions are being asked about what, if anything, should be done to further the fight against the disease.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, recently said most of the province’s new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among those not vaccinated or within two weeks of first shots.
Specifically, she said 96 per cent of those testing positive for the virus have not received two doses, with 95 per cent of hospitalizations and 91 per cent of deaths following the same trend.
Premier Jason Kenney has been increasingly vocal in recent weeks in trying to persuade more people to get the shots.
“Vaccines are crucial to keeping COVID-19 at bay in our province in the months to come,” said Kenney. “I am tremendously proud to see Albertans continue to step up to get their first dose. The more people who get vaccinated, the more control we have over this virus and its effect on our lives moving forward.”
Dr. Hinshaw continues to call for people to be vaccinated, saying it is a safe and proven way to fight the virus.
“We need to vaccinate as many people as possible now to protect us all in the weeks and months ahead,” said Hinshaw.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro has also called on residents to choose vaccination.
“Along with being protected, the sooner Albertans receive both doses, the sooner they can enter the remaining draws for our open for summer lottery,” said Shandro.
However, with vaccine hesitancy among a certain portion of the population now deeply rooted, the time is fast approaching when no amount of encouragement will persuade many more people to get the shots.
And that raises a series of new questions, including whether Alberta should accept future COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths as inevitable or whether other more drastic measures to boost vaccination levels should be considered.
Dan Singleton is an editor with The Albertan.