Most of Alberta could start to get vaccinated against COVID-19 a lot sooner than first planned.

Premier Jason Kenney held another Facebook live session Tuesday night and took several questions about the pandemic and the provincial and federal vaccine rollout.

He says the plan is to start vaccinating Albertans 75 and older, not in long-term care, starting next week (Jan 18-23) and move on with the program from there.

“Then we’ll start moving down that age bracket gradually,” said the Premier. “Based on current projections and vaccine supply, we should be able to open it up to sort of the general population by the summer, around June. It all depends on the supply the federal government gets for us.”

At Christmas time, Alberta Health Services posted to its website that vaccinations for the general population in the province wouldn’t likely start till the fall of 2021, however that appears to be getting pushed up significantly with Kenney’s projections.

Alberta’s goal is to give out 50,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine each week by the end of January and 200,000 shots each week by late March.

Kenney says during the yearly influenza inoculation program, Alberta has been able to give out between 200,000 and 400,000 vaccinations a week, so he’s confident the same can happen with the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Premier said earlier this week that Alberta would start to run out of COVID-19 vaccine very soon unless the province gets a large shipment immediately.

The federal government meanwhile signed an agreement with Pfizer for an additional 20 million doses of its COVID-19. Those shipments are expected in April and May.

Province-wide there were 875 new cases out of just under 16,000 tests for a provincial positivity rate of 5.3 percent announced on Wednesday

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health says the number of hospitalizations and ICU admissions are still putting a significant strain on the health system.

There were 23 additional COVID-19 deaths reported to AHS in the past day, including one in Lac La Biche.

Written by Pat Siedlecki, MyLethbridgeNow.com