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Adults in Alberta who haven't been fully vaccinated yet have now been given an incentive to do so with the provincial government announcing that it is offering $100 to anyone who receives a first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine between Sept. 3 and Oct. 14.
A total of 80 per cent of the COVID-19 cases not in hospital ICUs are unvaccinated and over 91 per cent in ICU are unvaccinated.
"For the love for God, please get vaccinated," Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said. "These numbers say it better than anybody every could."
"The reality is that we as a government don't get to choose how the virus behaves or how many people choose to protect themselves against it. We just have to find a way of limiting the damage that it causes, especially to our healthcare system."
In order to receive $100 after vaccination, each eligible Albertan can register online to have their immunization data validated. This website will be available starting on Sept. 13 and individuals who do not have access to a computer can contact 310-0000 for assistance on that same date.
When questioned about why the provincial government is compensating people who have "held out" to get a COVID-19 vaccine, when they're the people driving the pandemic situation in the province, Kenney defended the provincial government's approach.
"I wish we didn't have to do this but this is not a time for moral judgement, this is a time to get people vaccinated," Kenney said. "We have done everything we can, left no stone unturned, made it as easy as possible...and yet we have the lowest vaccination rate in Canada, we are about five percentage points below the Canadian average."
"If the choice is between a sustained crisis in our hospitals or, God forbid, widespread restrictions, which I want to avoid at all costs, or finding some way to get the attention of those vaccine latecomers, we're going to choose the latter."
Kenney went on to say that "remove some of the barriers" to vaccination for lower income groups in the province.
"Imagine that you might be a very low-income person, living in a remote area, who can't afford the gas to drive into town to get the shot, this will cover you," the premier said. "Maybe you're a very low-income person who can't afford a taxi to go to the local pharmacy, what have you, and you're not aware of the free ride shares that we're offering, this will give you that little bit of help."
"I think this may also help to reduce barriers for some of the folks who might be facing barriers because of lower income status."
Several people have taken to social media to comment on Alberta's decision to provide $100 to individuals who have yet to be fully vaccinated, if they come forward and do so.