More than 50 Sask. communities will receive COVID-19 vaccine doses this week: premier

Saskatchewan's premier says the province has been sluggish rolling out doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, adding the SHA will increase inoculations in the days and weeks ahead.

Priority groups will remain unchanged for the next few months

Premier Scott Moe explains Saskatchewan's slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccines

1 year ago
Duration 2:07
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe admits the province's rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has been slow, but he says inoculations will continue to increase in the weeks ahead.

Saskatchewan's premier says the province's health authority will increase the pace of COVID-19 inoculations in the days and weeks ahead.

"We need to keep up the pace of vaccinations here in Saskatchewan and we will," Scott Moe said during a news conference on Tuesday.

The province is slated to receive 190,000 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna by the end of March. With two doses each, that's enough to fully vaccinate 95,000 Saskatchewan residents, or about eight per cent of the population.

To achieve that benchmark, the rate of distribution needs to increase.

Moe said this will be done by inoculating 1,000 people a day in January while increasing the rate until the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) reaches 3,500 inoculations per day by the start of April.

What communities are next to receive the vaccine?

Health Canada has started publishing a schedule of how many vaccines will be delivered to each province.

According to Health Canada, Saskatchewan will receive 6,825 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week, along with 5,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine.

The province said some doses of the Moderna vaccine will continue to be shipped to the far north, but the majority will be distributed to over 50 communities in the southeast and east central regions of the province. 

This includes Canora, Kamsack, Kelvington, Wadena and surrounding areas in the east central areas, as well as Weyburn and surrounding communities in the southeast. 

The SHA says more communities will be listed on Thursday. 

"The Pfizer vaccine can now be moved and administered at secondary locations, and that will be very helpful," Moe said. "It means Pfizer doses received in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert can be moved to long-term care homes and personal care homes, and administered on site."

Moe says staff and long-term care residents in the mentioned areas will begin getting vaccinated this week. 

Priority groups will remain unchanged for the next few months

Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province's chief medical health officer, said that until the province enters Phase 2 — the mass vaccination stage — in April, it's not necessary to sequence specific groups. 

"The vaccine pace does pick up," Shahab said during Tuesday's provincial COVID-19 update. 

"But right now we have to recognize the eligibility is very specific: health-care workers, very specific residents of Saskatchewan, residents of long-term care homes, people over the age of 80."

COVID-19 vaccine prioritization in Saskatchewan

1 year ago
Duration 1:13
Those who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Saskatchewan must meet a very specific criteria, said the province's chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab.

Shahab said that throughout January and February, the vaccine will be delivered to these core priority groups that are first in line. 

"That's why it's slow, but it's essential those who are most vulnerable are covered first," Shahab said. "As more vaccines come, the priority groups will get bigger."

Health Minister Paul Merriman told CBC's Morning Edition the next priority group will be those in their 70s and those who are immunocompromised.

As for what professions will receive the vaccine next, remains unknown. 

"There's lots of requests coming in from teachers, police officers," Merriman said. "We will sit down with Dr. Shahab and decide who we feel should be next on the priority list."

With files from CBC's Morning Edition


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