Sask. people 50 and older now eligible for 2nd doses as province speeds up vaccine timeline
Accelerated rollout comes as pharmacies play greater role in dispensing vaccines
The age requirement for getting a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine dropped again in Saskatchewan on Monday.
People aged 50 and older can now book appointments to receive their second dose. Previously, only people 55 and older in the general population were eligible.
Second doses are also open to anyone who received their first dose on or before April 15 regardless of age, and to anyone aged 18 and older in the north.
The Saskatchewan government has fast-tracked its rollout of second doses in recent days. In mid-May, the province released a tentative second-dose age eligibility schedule that predicted only people 55 and up (or those vaccinated on or before April 7) would be eligible by Monday.
However, people 55 and older were made eligible on June 11, three days earlier than planned.
The tentative schedule released in mid-May also did not specifically cite future eligibility dates for any people aged younger than 45, though it did include unassigned dates that stretched out as far as July 26.
Over the weekend, the government changed course again and announced that everybody aged 12 and over will be eligible to receive a second dose by June 24.
The influx of eligible people comes at a key transition point in Saskatchewan's vaccine rollout.
Opportunities for booked appointments through the government's online or phone booking system are more limited as the province operates school-based clinics to try to provide first-doses to as many students as possible.
No appointments till next week—@RSGilmour
Can't get an appointment until 26th...—@CSTAndrea
Pharmacies are also playing a greater role in the rollout. A map of participating pharmacies across the province, links to pharmacies' online booking websites and information on which vaccine brands are being offered at each location is available here.
There have also been opportunities for people to get vaccines at drive-thrus, but not on a consistent basis.
On Monday, Premier Scott Moe announced the opening of Regina drive-thrus for people still seeking their first dose.
Today and tomorrow, Regina will be holding first-dose clinics for all residents aged 12+. These clinics are available to anyone who has not already received their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. [1/2] <a href="https://t.co/NBdFdelZeA">pic.twitter.com/NBdFdelZeA</a>—@PremierScottMoe
According to CBC's vaccine tracker, Saskatchewan is trailing most other provinces in having 58.5 per cent of its total population inoculated with one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
The growing influx of eligible people also comes amidst a boost in vaccine supply. This week, the province is expected to receive 89,880 Moderna doses, with another 130,620 Moderna doses expected next week.
Where the provinces stands in its reopening plan
The province's acceleration of its rollout also comes as it nears some key targets that trigger the easing of more public health restrictions that were enacted to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
As of Sunday, 69 per cent of Saskatchewan residents aged 18 and over had received their first dose — one percentage point shy the threshold the government established for setting July 11 as the date for Phase 3 of its reopening plan. Most remaining rules would be lifted on that date.
One key rule — mandatory masks in public spaces — will remain in place until three weeks after 70 per cent of all eligible vaccine recipients (including youth aged 12 and up) have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. As of Sunday, that figure stood at 67 per cent.
Some rules are already set to change this coming Sunday when Saskatchewan enters Phase 2 of its reopening plan.
For a complete listing of rule changes in Phase 2 and Phase 3, click here.