VANCOUVER -- A B.C. port city is responding to backlash from the public over its accelerated COVID-19 vaccination plan.

In most of the province, vaccine appointments are only available to B.C.'s oldest residents, but the decision was made in Prince Rupert to offer shots to all adults in the area between mid-March and early April.

The reasoning is simple. The northwestern B.C. city has seen high positivity and case rates and, unlike elsewhere in the province, these rates are not going down.

So the local health authority and the provincial ministry of health decided to offer those who live in Prince Rupert, and in nearby Port Edward, the opportunity to be vaccinated early.

"Quickly vaccinating the entire community is a great way to protect everyone in Prince Rupert, and keep them safe," said Northern Health's chief medical health officer, Dr. Jong Kim, in a statement.

But not everyone agrees with the choice, and some comments made on social media following the decision suggested the city is breaking the rules, or getting an unfair advantage over other municipalities.

Blair Mirau, a city councillor, reached out to CTV News to address some of the backlash on behalf of the city.

"With some of the highest per capita case counts in B.C., the tragic deaths of 14 of our loved ones in Acropolis Manor, dozens of health-care workers testing positive, and numerous active exposure advisories in our schools and homeless shelter, it obviously is a bittersweet moment," Mirau said as he expressed the city's gratitude for the customized vaccine plan.

"Unlike other cities that have seen anti-mask and anti-lockdown protests, the majority of Rupertites have been asking their leadership to be incredibly stringent," he said in an email.

The city was one of the first municipalities to declare a local state of emergency, and one of the first with a mask mandate, he said.

He outlined other measures taken locally, partly based on the communal knowledge that its regional hospital could not handle a big wave of cases if there would be an outbreak.

He said there were almost no confirmed cases in Prince Rupert until the end of 2020.

"The insinuation that our community is somehow being 'rewarded for bad behaviour' is absolutely wrong," Mirau wrote.

"Timing is everything: after months without any confirmed cases of community transmission, Prince Rupert's clusters are emerging at the same time as vaccine rollout is accelerating."

He said city staff feel the province is responding appropriately to the challenges faced in the rural, remote community with limited health-care resources.

Additionally, Mirau said, Prince Rupert has among the highest rates of poverty and vulnerability, and the second highest proportion of Indigenous residents of any city in Canada, other than Winnipeg, "who we know have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic."

"We are all acutely aware that living in the north means we don't have access to the same level of health-care services as the Lower Mainland. That's exactly why our community has taken this pandemic so seriously from the very beginning," Mirau said.