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Expanding COVID-19 testing at pharmacies

Alberta is expanding asymptomatic testing at community pharmacies, helping more people access timely COVID-19 testing close to home.

Any pharmacy in the province that wants to participate and is able to meet the safety requirements can now offer testing to Albertans who have no symptoms and no known exposure to COVID-19.

The expanded pharmacy testing follows the success of Alberta’s pilot program launched in June. An initial group of pilot pharmacies safely tested more than 10,300 Albertans, increasing testing capacity and helping support a safe relaunch.

To date, almost 677,000 COVID-19 tests have been completed across the province.

“Our innovative pilot clearly showed that community pharmacies can safely provide more Albertans with easy access to testing. Alberta continues to expand its testing capacity and maintain one of the highest testing rates in the world. Strong COVID-19 testing is a key part of our relaunch strategy and will help us continue to protect Albertans from this virus in the days ahead.” Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

“With cases on the rise in Alberta, we must all do our part in the fight against COVID-19. The actions we each take today will help protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities tomorrow. Testing helps us understand more about the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta.” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health

“We are pleased to see Alberta Health expand the pharmacy-based COVID-19 testing program beyond the pilot.  Most of the pharmacist practitioners participating in the pilot have been screening individuals prior to entering the pharmacy and testing by appointment only. Therefore, we encourage those interested in receiving a COVID-19 test to contact their pharmacist in advance.” Margaret Wing, chief executive officer, Alberta Pharmacists’ Association

“As a trusted partner to Alberta Health, Alberta Blue Cross is pleased to help deliver this initiative to enable pharmacies to support the reopening of our province for Albertans. This is a great initiative to deliver testing to Albertans, in a medium that is both convenient and accessible. Alberta Blue Cross is committed to supporting Albertans as we navigate together through COVID-19, and we are pleased to support this program.” Mark Komlenic, chief executive officer, Alberta Blue Cross

Each pharmacy will adhere to strict protocols and has the specialized skills needed to protect patient safety. The pharmacy test is a throat swab, which is sent to Alberta Precision Labs for analysis.

Albertans are encouraged to reach out to a participating pharmacy for more information about how to arrange a test. A list of participating pharmacies is available through Alberta Blue Cross.

Testing is available to all Albertans, even if they don't have symptoms. Asymptomatic testing is particularly encouraged:

  • Before or after spending time with individuals who have a higher risk of serious health outcomes (e.g., anyone over 65 or with underlying medical conditions)

  • Before or after travelling internationally, attending an event with recent travellers or hosting them.

  • Before or after participating in activities or events that may have put you at a higher risk of exposure (e.g., a large gathering where physical distancing was not followed).

  • For frontline workers who have regular interactions with Albertans, particularly those at higher risk of serious outcomes.

In addition to participating pharmacies, anyone who wants to get tested can continue to book an appointment online with the AHS assessment tool.

Quick facts

  • Alberta has performed almost 677,000 tests on more than 566,000 Albertans.

  • Strong testing data helps government and public health officials understand how our communities are affected by COVID-19 to make public health decisions.

  • Only those who have no symptoms and no known exposure to COVID-19 can be tested at participating pharmacies.

  • Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or known exposure must complete the COVID-19 self-assessment or call Health Link 811.

  • AHS will directly contact any Albertan who tests positive to discuss the results, begin contact tracing, and protect the public’s health.

Provincial Press Release July 30 3:47 pm


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