November 26, 2021

Weekly EconMinute—Vaccination rates in Alberta

In this week’s EconMinute, we’re talking about vaccination rates in Alberta.

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In mid-September, in the face a third wave of COVID, the Government of Alberta announced a Restrictions Exemption Program. Essentially, this program meant that individuals needed to show proof of vaccination for certain non-essential activities such as dining in a restaurant or going to a movie. Without it, individuals would not be allowed entry.

Now that a couple of months have passed since this program was put into place, we were curious to see how it affected rates of vaccination. Did the program convince individuals who were either vaccine-hesitant or perhaps simply hadn’t taken the time to get a shot to get vaccinated?

Here’s what the data show:

  • For Albertans 60 and over, the program announcement seems to have had only a small impact on their uptake of vaccination. However, this is likely because vaccination rates for older Albertan was already so high (over 90%).
  • For younger Albertans, however, it did. Vaccination rates of all three remaining age groups increased following the announcement.
  • For instance, uptake increased among those age 40 to 59 from 80% in mid-September to 88% as of mid-November (measured as a percentage of the age group who has received at least one dose). To put this in perspective, in the preceding two months the rate of vaccination increased from 75% to 79%.
  • The biggest change, however, was seen among young adults and teens. The youngest age group (age 12 – 19) increased from about 70% to 83% while the next youngest age group (age 20 – 39) increased from 70% to 82%.

That said, as mentioned, the third wave of the virus was gaining steam at this same time. Evidence from other jurisdictions has shown that an increase in cases can encourage some who are on the fence on vaccination to get a shot.

Nonetheless, the notable break in the graph at the time of the announcements suggests that the Restrictions Exemption Program played at least some role, especially given the increase among younger adults who have the lowest rates of vaccination and, potentially, the least to fear from the virus directly.

Overall, this leaves Alberta with a highly vaccinated population, especially when compared with many jurisdictions globally: 75% of Albertans have received at least one shot and 71% are fully vaccinated. And, this number is set to increase sharply over the coming months as younger Albertans (under age 12) are now at the front of the queue for vaccination.  

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