Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller pauses before responding to a question during a news conference in Ottawa on Feb. 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Provinces should prioritize vaccinating Indigenous people against COVID-19: Miller

Vaccination has started in 400 Indigenous communities

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says new guidance on COVID-19 vaccinations reaffirms the standard set for provinces to prioritize Indigenous people in their vaccination programs.

Miller says his department is working with Indigenous leaders and the provincial and territorial health authorities to prepare mass immunization programs in First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.

He says vaccination has started in 400 Indigenous communities, with more than 83,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered as of yesterday.

Miller says vaccines have been delivered to about 25 per cent of the adult population in First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities, a rate that is six times higher than that of the general population in Canada.

The new recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization prioritize racialized adults in groups disproportionately affected by the pandemic ahead of some older non-racialized people.

The committee recommended in its new guidance Monday that all adults in Indigenous communities should receive COVID-19 shots in the second stage of the immunization campaign this spring.

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