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17% of Albertans 75 and older aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19; Why not?

Alberta’s vaccination rates are rising, but there’s a small percentage of the most vulnerable population still unprotected from COVID-19.

According to Alberta Health, as of Wednesday, 83 per cent of Albertans aged 75 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine. The remaining 17 per cent do not yet have any protection against the virus.

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Ruth Adria is the chairman of the Elder Advocates of Alberta Society. She said she’s not surprised by the number of Alberta seniors who have not yet received the vaccine.

“They need reassurance and encouragement,” Adria said.

“Some people are totally isolated. Maybe they aren’t as mobile as they used to be. When you’re older, you are reluctant to say, ‘Help me.’”

On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney urged people to reach out to seniors who haven’t yet received a shot.

“They might be folks stranded at home. They may not have transportation. They may have cognitive impairment and not be aware of the program,” Kenney said at a news conference Tuesday.

Click to play video: Kenney says Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout gaining steam amid challenges

Awareness is part of the mission of Vaccine Hunters Canada, a volunteer group dedicated to helping those eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We’re a vaccine awareness group that primarily aims to give Canadians information about eligibility requirements, when and where vaccines appointments can be booked or last-minute appointments,” said Vaccine Hunters Canada’s Joshua Kalpin.

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Kaplin said they get emails from seniors across Canada — many cite transportation and technology barriers as an issue.

“Really, I think a lot (of the problem) is access,” he said.

“Regardless of vaccine rollout and how information is being broadcast, the best people to help you are those that you trust in your community. That’s what we are facilitating.”

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Adria said the Elder Advocates of Alberta Society is not heavily involved in vaccine outreach, but if a senior calls the group, it will provide direction and reassurance.

She said many seniors are also feeling information overload with COVID-19, leading to vaccine hesitancy. Other seniors have expressed they do not wish to receive the vaccine.

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“We are hearing some mixed messages. This vaccine is acceptable, this one isn’t. This vaccine is paused. That can be troubling and a bit frightening,” she said.

Click to play video: Should seniors and immunocompromised people get a second COVID-19 dose sooner?

Adria suggests friends and family reach out to seniors in their life to help them connect with a family doctor, help them book an appointment online or take them to get a shot.

“It’s just not that simple, unless somebody has the knowledge.”

In a statement to Global News, Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said: “Health officials are working with seniors’ facilities and other partners to ensure that everyone is aware of the vaccine and able to receive it.

“Since March, AHS has also has worked to provide COVID-19 immunization to homebound Albertans. The vaccine will be administered in clients’ homes by public health nurses or home care nurses, depending on the zone.”


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