EDMONTON -- Phase 2A of the Alberta COVID-19 immunization program will begin on Wednesday.

Albertans born in 1957 will be able to book an appointment for a COVID-19 immunization online or by calling Health Link at 811. They will receive the Covishield/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Any First Nations, Métis, and Inuit born in 1972 will be able to book their immunization appointment by calling Health Link.

People meeting that eligibility who book an appointment will receive their first dose of the vaccine.

Pending future vaccine supply, more Albertans will be offered their opportunity to book appointments for immunization after March 10.

Appointment availability will increase in stages each day by the next birth year.

There are four COVID-19 vaccines authorized by Health Canada: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).

The Covishield vaccine,which was approved by Health Canada on Feb. 26, is produced by the Serum Institute of India and is considered equivalent to the AstraZeneca version.

The Covisheiled/AstraZeneca vaccine is provided in two doses that are given approximately 16 weeks apart.

Initial doses of the vaccines being offered will not be available at pharmacies.

Alberta Health is recommending the Covishield/AstraZeneca vaccine for Albertans aged 18 to 64 so long as they do not have any severe allergies to vaccine ingredients or any chronic illnesses.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) acknowledged there were issues with the recent rollout of immunizations for Albertans aged 75 years old and over. They say, they are “better prepared” for this next vaccine rollout phase.

In an open letter to Albertans, AHS said offering the AstraZeneca vaccine is another step toward eventually seeing every adult in Alberta having the opportunity to receive at least one dose of the vaccine by the end of June, should they choose to do so.

“It is one more step towards the end of the pandemic, and a return to normal life.”