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Decades of difference in vaccine eligibility across the country

Last Updated Mar 9, 2021 at 6:43 pm MDT

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — People lining up in Edmonton look a lot different from those getting immunized in Montreal.

Some Canadians as young as 35 are eligible to get their COVID-19 vaccine before the end of the month, while those in their 80s could still be waiting weeks for a first dose – it all depends on where you live. 

It may look like the Alberta advantage, with the province moving into its second phase Wednesday – for those 50 to 64 wanting the AstraZeneca shot, while most Ontarians 80 and older are at least a week away from a first dose.

A member of Canada’s Immunity Task Force notes they all started with high-risk residents and workers in long term care, then hospital workers caring for COVID-19 patients.

READ MORE: Alberta gets ready to open bookings for AstraZeneca vaccine

“Working down from there by age group, by older age group. I think it’s within in that sequencing, as far as I can tell, that there’s been some variation from province to province. Because Alberta does appear to be ahead in terms of not just getting the long term care residents and workers, but persons over 80,” said Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Jim Kellner.

In British Columbia, those in their 90s just started booking, while Quebecers 70 years of age and older are getting vaccinated by region.

Some argue it comes down to infrastructure and which vaccines need to be stored at what temperature. 

READ MORE: Twenty-eight new cases of B.1.1.7 variant, six additional deaths reported in Alberta

“You have a window, so once you open them, then they remain safe to use because of sterility issues for a certain window of time. So you want to be pretty close to where you store them and so that sort of becomes your anchor point,” said Dr. Omar Khan, a Biomedical Engineering professor at the University of Toronto. “So It’s a logistics problem, a lot of it. And Iooking at how to deploy them and what groups.”

Comparing four provinces – it’s Quebec that actually has the highest percentage of its population with a first dose but details about delivery are becoming less important.

“We’re getting four vaccines, that’s going to iron out all these wrinkles and make things more even across the board,” said Dr. Khan.