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Extension to eligible Indigenous vaccine recipients not properly announced: spokesperson

Last Updated Mar 31, 2021 at 7:42 pm PDT

FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2021 file photo a medical staff member prepares the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, Calif. With vaccination against COVID-19 in full swing, social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter say they’ve stepped up their fight against misinformation that aims to undermine trust in the vaccines. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Indigenous peoples over the age of 18 in BC can now start booking their COVID-19 shots

But some in the community felt they weren't properly informed

SQUAMISH (NEWS 1130) — As of Wednesday, anyone who identifies as Indigenous over the age of 18 in B.C. can start booking their COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

The First Nation Health Authority said this applies to anyone who identifies as Indigenous, and there is no requirement to show your proof of ancestry.

Squamish Nation spokesperson, Khelsilem called it welcomed news for the community.

“Given the challenges we face, the levels of poverty, the below-median income that Indigenous people tend to have compared to the Canadian average, it just means the impacts have made it a lot harder for indigenous people to survive and thrive in the pandemic.”

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccinations in B.C.: What you need to know

However, Khelsilem said the first day of booking didn’t come without its challenges.

“I really don’t think that the government has done a good job on communication on this,” he said. “I’m still hearing from a lot of Indigenous people around challenges at the call centres not even being aware that this is now available for Indigenous people to book.”

“I think the call centres weren’t properly informed of what the changes are and so I know of Indigenous peoples who are becoming quite frustrated and offended.”

In Tuesday afternoon’s B.C. COVID-19 statement, The Ministry of Health said vaccine appointment bookings for age-based immunizations are now open for people 73 or older in all health authorities, and Indigenous peoples over 18.

The BC Government website was also updated Tuesday afternoon to say anyone who identifies as Indigenous in B.C. can start making appointments for a COVID-19 vaccine.

The First Nations Health Authority posted a press release to their website Wednesday afternoon confirming Indigenous adults can start making appointments, and included the health authority’s various phone numbers to call.

Regional call centres will shut down on April 28 and will be replaced by a single phone number for all British Columbians to reach out to.

An online provincial registration and booking system will launch on April 6.