It was announced last week that Alberta Health has been working with the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) to incorporate community physicians into the vaccine distribution plan as vaccine supply increases.

This has resulted in numerous clinics and physicians showing an interest in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine. Combined, 185 physician clinics containing 1,100 physicians will create an additional capacity of approximately 14,000 doses per day as long as supply allows.  Dr. Paul Boucher, president of the Alberta Medical Association said, “Physicians are eager to know that their patients are being protected from COVID-19. Those family physicians who can participate – in their own clinics or through the new rapid flow sites – will make a substantial difference and enhance Alberta’s response to the pandemic."

That sentiment is echoed by a local physician, Dr. Adam Nielsen and his clinic, the Maple Leaf Medical Centre in the community of Fireside in Cochrane has applied to provide COVID-19 vaccinations. Dr. Nielsen says, "It's not going to be every single family doctor who is going to be doing this because there is a ton of administrative things that go along with it and sometimes the feasibility of it isn't going to work all that well. Especially depending on what other options are in the community too. But, we just spoke about this at our clinic and we sort of feel as though even if it is sort of a break-even opportunity, or even if you lose a little bit of money on it, that the benefit to the public far outweighs what any of those potential costs are. And so starting in April there are going to be some clinics that are going to be able to start vaccinating, not just their patients, but anybody in the population." 

As it seems to be with everything COVID related, Nielsen says they don't know all of the details, yet. This is due to the fact that there are still application processes for interested clinics to adhere to. They should getting more information in the coming weeks in order for the participating clinics to start the rollout.  Nielsen says, "Hopefully, just gives another option for people to be able to get their vaccine when they are able to and make it a little bit easier for people to get the vaccine as well."

Dr. Nielsen adds the onus is going to fall on the individual to follow up with booking their second vaccine shot within the four month window and ensuring that they receive the same kind of vaccine for both shots whether it's Pfizer, Moderna or Astra/Zeneca. Nielsen says there is an app that can help to keep track of all your immunizations including COVID called Immunize Canada. You can input what type of vaccine you received and the date you received it in order to remember to book your four month followup. 

As April approaches, there will be more information forthcoming as to which local physicians and clinics will be rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine. For now, we know for sure that the Maple Leaf Medical Centre will be ready, willing and able as soon as the provincial government provides them with the go ahead. 

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