Danielle Smith says Albertans should have access to the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine if they want it.
The columnist, former radio host and former leader of the Opposition to the Wildrose Party flew to Phoenix, Ariz., Last week and received the inoculation with one dose.
“It was expensive, it was annoying, it was hard to find,” she said. “It took many steps.”
Last month, Smith started one online collection to pose a legal challenge to the federal government to make more COVID-19 treatments available in Canada.
Now she can have one of her wishes. The governments of Alberta, BC, and Saskatchewan have requested Ottawa to deliver doses of the Johnson & Johnson immunization to the three provinces.
Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said on Friday that her government is working on it and has contacted other provinces and territories to see if they are interested.
COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca are already available in Canada. Health Canada approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but problems with a US manufacturer prompted the government to return the doses received.
Rural and Alberta health and city council members and city council members tell the county government that some unvaccinated people want the mark, according to Prime Minister Jason Kenney.
“This has become enough of a drumming of a request that we believe demand is real,” he said Thursday.
Kenney initially said he asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for 20,000 doses, but later Alberta later said he has joined Saskatchewan and BC to ask for a total of 50,000 doses.
The BC government has asked the federal government for access to the shot “several” times, says a spokesman for BC’s health minister. They could not say how many times.
Single shots provide shorter waiting times for full immunity
Smith wanted a shot because she’s not good at needles, and because of Alberta’s new opt-in proof of vaccination program.
The program started Sept. 20 for non-essential companies and events. To operate without capacity limits, they must ask patrons to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result from the previous 72 hours.
Using quick test results was impractical, Smith said. Since she would not wait until she had two doses to be considered fully vaccinated, she sought out Johnson & Johnson.
Other people have told her they just want a shot, and some have concerns about mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna, she said.
However, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has no scientific advantage over the others, says Craig Jenne, associate professor of microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Calgary.
According to Health Canada, the single shot is 66 percent effective in preventing anyone from getting sick with COVID-19. New experimental data from Johnson & Johnson found that two doses of the vaccine are 94 percent effective in preventing disease.
It also carries a rare, but potentially life-threatening, risk of causing blood clots.
Expert recommendations may change to prescribe two doses at six to eight month intervals, Jenne says. But if people are willing to take this shot, then bring it on.
“This is a good strategy if we can get a significant number of people,” he said.
Alberta has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Canada, and an increase in unvaccinated people infected with COVID-19 is overwhelmingly hospitals and intensive care units.
Kenney hopes a new vaccine option will affect some vaccine stops.
“At the end of the day, if there are some people who have done their own research and concluded that they will only take J&J, it provides important protection and we would like to help get it for them.”