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Seniors 75+ can register for COVID vaccine next week

"Age is the single greatest factor for risk for COVID-19 mortality."

Starting immediately, retirement centres, seniors lodges and all other congregate supportive living centres will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, while seniors 75 and up living in the community can book appointments starting Feb. 24.

Indigenous and Métis seniors age 65 and older who live in a First Nations community or a Métis Settlement are also eligible for the vaccine as part of the Phase 1B roll out as they are more likely to have pre-existing chronic health conditions and have a higher likelihood of severe outcomes.

"We have always said we will always protect the most vulnerable Albertans first in our vaccination plan and this is reflected in the lower age cut-off for Indigenous people in Alberta," Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro said.

On Friday afternoon, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Shandro announced Alberta is moving ahead with the Phase 1B roll-out of the vaccine plan after all second doses have been given out to seniors living in long-term care and designated supportive living homes, with the exception of those who were too sick or declined from getting the vaccine.

"Age is the single greatest factor for risk for COVID-19 mortality," Shandro said.

Shandro said seniors will be contacted by phone or can sign up online to get their vaccinations. The government will be relying on community partners, like family doctors and pharmacists to reach out to their patient rosters and alert them to their eligibility for the vaccine.

"They are going to do some of that outreach and are going to be included and have contact from that health professional," Shandro said, adding the vaccine roll-out would be similar to the flu shot, where residents are able to get it in pharmacies and doctors' offices.

While Shandro said the province will be relying on community partners, it is unknown which pharmacies or doctors' offices will have access to the vaccine.

"It's going to start with pharmacists that are ready to accept (the vaccine) for storage and for distribution," Shandro said.

These health professionals will need to meet the storage requirements for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines which need to be stored at -20 C and -80 C respectively.

Since the province started vaccinating those living in long-term care and designated supportive living homes, there has been a significant drop in the amount of active cases, severe outcomes and deaths in the province, Kenney said.

So far, the province has administered 155,532 doses of vaccine, with 58,674 Albertans fully immunized with two doses. The province has a vaccination rate of 3,517.3 doses per 100,000.

For more information on vaccines, visit the provincial website.