Premier Scott Moe says more groups could be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine

Premier Scott Moe says conversations about prioritizing more groups for COVID-19 vaccines are underway.

Prioritizing would happen when general age eligibility drops to people 40 and older

Premier Scott Moe says other groups could be prioritized for a COVID-19 vaccine once the age eligibility reaches 40 and over, but he has not specified which groups. (Michael Bell/The Canadian Press)

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says conversations about prioritizing more groups for COVID-19 vaccines are underway.

The province announced last week it was adding first responders like police and firefighters to the vaccination plan, with 140 police officers in Regina being vaccinated between April 10 and 11.

On Monday, Moe told reporters that the province is looking into other priority groups for vaccinations when the general age eligibility drops to people 40 and older.

Most residents aged 48 years and older can currently book a vaccine appointment, except in northern Saskatchewan where it's 40 to 47 years old.

"Once we hit that 40-year age group, we may prioritize a number of folks that are at higher risk of contracting COVID," Moe said.

He didn't specify which people could be prioritized, only saying it would be those who work with large groups.

"It is a shift for this government, at least in the discussion that we're having, and I think it really does in many ways address what the conversation, the broader conversation, has been in this country and in this province throughout our vaccination process," Moe told reporters.

The province has opted for an age-based model due to heightened risk among people who are over the age of 40, Moe said.

Calls increasing for school staff to be vaccinated

The potential change comes after the death of beloved Prince Albert teacher Victor Thunderchild over the weekend. Thunderchild died as a result of COVID-19 and family members say he contracted the virus while working at a high school in the city.

Moe said he's heard many stories about Thunderchild's influence on students, teachers and the community.

Victoria Dyck, a teacher with the Prairie Spirit School Division, wrote an open letter to government and health officials after Thunderchild's death, imploring that school staff be prioritized. Dyck also tested positive for the virus and believes she came into contact with it at the school she teaches in.

School divisions in Saskatoon and Regina have also sent letters to the province asking for school staff to be vaccinated as soon as possible, while the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation has issued ongoing calls for priority vaccines.

Moe said he should have more to say on further priority groups "likely in the next day or two," and reiterated that the province's goal is to offer everyone 18 years and older a vaccine by sometime in May, if supply allows it.

The Saskatoon and Regina immunization drive-thru clinics have been temporarily closed after each clinic used up its vaccine supply over the weekend.

With files from The Canadian Press


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