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Jars full of empty COVID-19 vaccine vials at the Junction Chemist pharmacy, in Toronto, April 6.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Albertans over the age of 18 will soon be able to book their fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Alberta Health said in a news release that adults can start booking their second booster shot Wednesday, as long as it has been five months since their first booster.

It said the expanded availability will give residents more choices to protect themselves against COVID-19 during a period of increased community transmission.

“Vaccines remain critical to lowering your risk of severe outcomes and protecting our health-care system,” Health Minister Jason Copping said in the release Tuesday.

Alberta Health said people can expect to see periods of increased transmission through the summer, and into the fall and winter. It said the Omicron BA. 5 variant, which is highly transmissible but doesn’t appear to cause more severe outcomes, is now the most common strain in Alberta.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said prevention is the best defence against the new variants.

“I urge all Albertans who have not already done so to access their first booster dose to help lower their risk of infection and severe outcomes, and to carefully consider their own risk factors when making choices about when to get a second booster,” she said.

Experts have said that people should consider getting a fourth dose sooner than later if there’s a lot of COVID-19 in their community. Another factor, they said, is whether a person or someone in their household has an underlying health condition such as heart disease or chronic lung disease.

Albertans will be able to book their appointments online or by calling 811. The province said some pharmacies will also take walk-in appointments.

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