COVID vaccinations have begun at local lodges and all other seniors 75 and older can now book a COVID-19 vaccine shot, said Steve Madden, Grande Spirit general manager.
Eligibility was expanded to everyone outside lodges born in 1946 or before as of Feb. 24, with availability based on supply.
“We’re excited, and it’s good to see the supply catch up to the number of people waiting,” Madden said.
He said Grande Spirit is aware of many relieved seniors and families.
Seniors’ vaccinations began at Pioneer Lodge in Grande Prairie Wednesday morning, followed by Heritage Lodge and Wild Rose Manor later that day, he said.
Vaccinations at Clairmont’s Lakeview facility will take place all today, Madden said.
Amisk Court vaccinations are scheduled for March 3, and he said he is hopeful the supply will allow these immunizations to go forward.
Residents will be contacted by their care teams, according to Alberta Health Services.
All other seniors can book an appointment for a vaccine through AHS, by calling 811 or going to albertahealthservices.ca, though some early registrants Wednesday morning experienced system crashes due to heavy traffic.
Beaverlodge resident Eleanor Lord said she began trying to book an appointment 8 a.m. Wednesday morning and at press time hadn’t succeeded.
“The online system has crashed and 811 is continuously busy,” Lord said. She said they’ll keep trying, but she’s wondering if vaccines will run out.
Family members can book a shot on behalf of seniors but must provide the senior’s Alberta Health Care number and date of birth, according to AHS.
The continuation of the vaccine rollout adds seniors to a growing list of eligible recipients.
Others include health-care workers in COVID-19 units and emergency departments.
Vaccinations of elders began at Horse Lake First Nation this month, chief Ramona Horseman told Town & Country News last week.
More than 29,000 long-term care residents have received two doses of vaccine to date, according to the Alberta government.
The ongoing first phase of immunizations will be followed by a second possibly beginning in April, depending on vaccine supply.
The vaccine will be offered to everyone 65 to 74, First Nations and Métis people 60 to 64, and supportive-living facility staff who haven’t already been immunized, according to the government.
They will be followed by everyone 18 to 64 with “high-risk underlying health conditions,” then staff and residents of living facilities like homeless shelters, and then everyone 50 to 64 and indigenous people 35 to 49.
Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News