Beginning on Tuesday, April 20 Albertans aged 40 or over will be able to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Premier Jason Kenney took to Twitter yesterday evening (Sunday, April 18) to make the announcement.

The province's decision to lower the age of eligibility from age 55 to 40, means that more than 500,000 additional Albertans will be able to book appointments to get vaccinated, bringing the total eligible population to 2.3 million.

The broadening of eligibility criteria is based on public health recommendations, looking at the benefits it offers weighed against the small risk of adverse events.

Over the weekend, Alberta reported the first confirmed case of a blood clot due to the AstraZeneca vaccine in the province, the second reported case in the country. 

Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw assures blood clots are extremely rare and she is urging Albertans to still get the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

The Alberta case marks the second case of VITT out of more than 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca or CoviSHIELD/AstraZeneca that have been administered in Canada to date. 

Dr. Hinshaw says that "This does not change the risk assessment previously communicated to Albertans"

According to Health Officials, AstraZeneca has been shown to reduce infection by 60-70 per cent, and severe outcomes like hospitalization by 80 per cent.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says that the sooner more Albertans become immunized, the sooner we can return to normal.

"With COVID-19 cases at high levels throughout the province, we are lowering the age eligibility for this vaccine so that as many Albertans as possible are able to choose the protection this vaccine offers," says Shandro. "The more people that get vaccinated as quickly as possible, the sooner we can protect our communities, reduce the burden on our healthcare system, and get life back to normal in our province."

Alberta Health Services (AHS) as well as participating pharmacies will begin booking appointments for AstraZeneca vaccinations tomorrow (April 20, 2021) for Albertans born in 1981 or earlier. Walk-in vaccinations will be available at the walk-in clinics in Calgary and Edmonton, as well as specific pharmacies across the province.