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EDITORIAL: COVID-19 vaccine boosters just in time for holidays

Expanded eligibility for vaccines will help keep those ringing in the New Year more safely

The provincial government announced Dec. 21 it was expanding its COVID-19 booster vaccine eligibility.

While a divisive issue, we believe this is one way the province is making sure our New Year's Eve gatherings are even safer.

As the highly transmissible Omicron variant continues to rip through vaccinated and unvaccinated populations, with cases in Alberta jumping to more than 2,600 as of Dec. 22, Premier Jason Kenney has essentially been gifted a re-do.

After the flop that was his ‘open for summer’ plan, Kenney announced that Albertans over the age of 18 can get a boost before visiting with family over the holidays.

Earlier this month, Alberta’s top doc said there are more options to celebrate compared to last Christmas, “thanks to the power of vaccine and the 85 per cent of Albertans who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”

Holiday gatherings are still limited, but it’s increased to a maximum of 10 people 18 and older — with no limits for those under 17 if accompanied by their parent or guardian. Meanwhile, pubs, restaurants and other programs adhering to the Restrictions Exemption Program are to limit their capacity, activities offered and cut alcohol service short in efforts to reduce transmission.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw still recommends people go beyond that and reduce the number of contacts by half and limit unrestricted activities where there’s high risk of transmission.

The province is even going that extra mile by offering Albertans free rapid antigen testing kits for at-home use, available at select pharmacies in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer. The government website even has the Okotoks Assessment Centre on its list. Anecdotally, the tests have been hard to come by across the province.

These tests can detect COVID-19 whether there are symptoms or not, further protecting you and your loved ones this holiday season.

The whole purpose of the holidays is to spend it with those you love, and the province has just gifted us with the means to do that more safely.

Caitlin Clow

About the Author: Caitlin Clow

Caitlin is the editor of the Okotoks Western Wheel and Cochrane Eagle. She graduated from Mount Royal's Journalism program in 2015 and has worked for The Canadian Press, The Globe and Mail, Postmedia and Black Press.
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