VANCOUVER -- Residents in Whistler, B.C. are being offered early COVID-19 vaccines, according to the health authority responsible for the ski resort town.

Vancouver Coastal Health says that the area around Whistler has the highest rate of coronavirus infections in the province.

“Currently Howe Sound has the highest rate of COVID-19 of any local health area in the province; the majority of these cases reside in the Whistler community," reads a statement from the health authority.

Whistler’s mayor says it’s offering hope to his town, which is struggling with the economic impact from being ordered to close its ski hills.

“Obviously it’s troubling enough that the ski hill needs to be closed and our economy needs to be shuttered, we hoped that same concern (by health officials) would extend to vaccinating the community," said Mayor Jack Crompton.

“I am pleased that the province saw value in protecting Whistler, and I think by extension protecting British Columbia," he said.

The health authority says it has recorded three separate waves of COVID-19 infections in Whistler, and that the majority of confirmed cases have been in adults aged 20 to 39. Between Jan. 1 and April 5, there have been 1,505 cases recorded in Whistler, according to Vancouver Coastal Health.

The town has also been hit hard by the P.1 variant, which is commonly associated with Brazil. As of Tuesday, April 6, B.C. Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there were 197 cases of the P1 variant in Whistler, accounting for nearly one quarter of the province's then 877 P1 cases.

Adults aged 18 to 54 (or who were born between 1967 and 2003) who are living and working in Whistler will be eligible to get vaccinated under the new initiative, and can register at

The province has already invited B.C. residents who are Indigenous and 18-years-old and up, as well as all adults aged 55 and up to get vaccinated. Therefore Whistler residents who fall in this category should continue with their previous vaccine plans.