Alberta health officials announced adults over 50 will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine later this month.
During a news conference Thursday, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced the province is moving into Phase 2A of its immunization strategy.
Seniors age 65 to 74 will be able to book a vaccine appointment to receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine starting March 15. This time eligibility will be rolled out to seniors in two-year increments every day.
For example, on March 15 people aged 73 and 74 will be eligible. On March 16 people aged 71 and 72 will be eligible, and so forth.
Indigenous people in Alberta who are 50 or older will also be offered eligibility in this cohort.
Once someone is eligible they stay eligible and can book their immunization any time, Shandro said.
“You never lose eligibility for the vaccine,” he said. “No one gets left behind.”
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Adults over 50 can choose AstraZeneca jab for earlier vaccination
Starting March 10, Alberta is also allowing adults aged 50 to 64 to book an appointment to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. That vaccine has not been approved for use in people older than 65.
People in the 50 to 64 age bracket can also wait to get the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, which will be available to them in late May.
“We recommend all healthy Albertans get immunized as soon as they are eligible,” Shandro said. “Getting a vaccine regardless of type is the right choice.”
Research suggests the AstraZeneca vaccine is slightly less effective at preventing infection than the Pfizer or Moderna jabs. But getting 60 to 70% protection against illness sooner rather than later is the smart choice, Shandro said.
“Widespread vaccination will help all Albertans,” he said.
He also announced everyone in the province over age 18 who wants a vaccine should be able to get their first dose by the end of June — if the federal government’s supply estimates are correct.