Alberta Vaccination – June 08/21

Have you ever pulled down a dataset, manipulated it into shape and produced a set of maps just to see what was going on? Maybe it’s just me (or like-minded sicko nerds). Anyways, I was looking at my analysis and thought maybe someone else out there would enjoy it; I suppose that’s the reason for this blog and all.

This is a cut of the COVID-19 vaccination rates in Alberta, the data is from Alberta Health Services as of end of day June 8, 2021. First, a summary table:

The top table uses the five main health regions that Alberta Health Services uses, but with the largest city broken out for four of them. Note this is the city proper — bedroom suburbs like Chestermere, St. Albert and Sherwood Park are in the respective remainder categories.

The bottom table uses the urban/rural classification scheme for Local Government Areas from Alberta Health Services. Metro is the cities of Calgary and Edmonton; Metro Influence is the commuter belt around those cities. Urban is Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray; Urban Influence is the rural districts around these mid-sized cities. The rural is the remainder; the Rural Centre Areas have larger cities — Camrose, Wetaskiwin, Cold Lake, Brooks and Canmore (as well as the LGA with Lloydminster, which isn’t in this table; see below.) Rural Remote is in the northern part of the province; most of the province north of Fairview, High Prairie and Slave Lake (except Peace River), as well as the Jasper/Hinton/Fox Creek/Swan Hills areas.

Just to go through the column headings, the first five are the percent vaccinated in each of the five age groups Alberta Health Services provides. The total is the total proportion of people who have been vaccinated. The normalized value is this total, but adjusted so that every area has the same age profile (more about this in a second), and the last column is the proportion of people 12 years old and older who have been vaccinated.

The normalized data just takes the share in each of the age bins (and the not shown under 12, who are assumed to be 0% vaccinated) and calculates what the share would be if that area had the same age profile as the population as a whole. Since the older population has the highest vaccination rates, an area with an older population than average will have a higher vaccination rate than average. The normalized version takes this into account. It’s a better comparison of how well each area is doing at getting people vaccinated. Here’s that normalized rate across the province:

There are some areas crosshatched in this figure; this reflects areas where AHS doesn’t have reliable data. In the Vermillion River area on the eastern central edge of the province, the residents of the largest city, Lloydminster, are being vaccinated by the Saskatchewan government, so AHS doesn’t have data for them (and the vaccination rate here is lower than reality).

AHS also doesn’t have data for vaccines provided by the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Indigenous Services Canada. I can’t find any information about how many vaccines they’re responsible for and where, so I’ve just identified the LGAs with over 20% First Nations population. I suspect this missing data is mostly in the two northern LGAs, High Level and Wood Buffalo — but I don’t know for sure. The table at the top removes these two suspect LGAs as well as Vermillion River.

The most interesting thing I’ve seen is the urban/rural gap; it’s clear in the table above where the major cities and their commuter belts are at 70%+ vaccination of the population over 12, the midsize cities and rural centres are around 60% and the rural areas are around 50%. But it’s even more striking by age.

I’ve prepared two more maps. One shows the vaccination rate for people aged 60+, and the second for people aged 12-59.

Here’s where that rural/urban gap really stands out; the 60+ population is well vaccinated, 65% or more everywhere, and up to 90% in the major cities, a range of 25% from good to great. But the under 60 population has a much bigger disparity – the best areas in the major cities are over 75% vaccinated, while there are rural areas under 25%; twice as big a range. The younger population in the major cities is starting to pass the senior population in the rural areas.

It’s clear at this point that Alberta’s vaccination success or failure now rests on the younger, rural population.

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