Premier Moe discusses what’s next for Sask. when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions, vaccines

Premier Scott Moe offered news during Tuesday’s provincial COVID-19 update that some people might consider as a light at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday saw the province announce two more deaths from COVID-19 along with 134 new cases and 194 more recoveries. In the same announcement, the government shared that 100 per cent of long-term care homes have now received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and that over half of long-term care facilities have received both doses of vaccine.

It was not the only set of positive news the premier provided to residents as he hinted at what might happen with the province’s COVID-19 restrictions if numbers remain steady.

Moe  mentioned how he has heard some residents say they want to see the government begin to ease the restrictions that are currently in place, particularly the rules surrounding household gatherings which have been in effect since mid-December. He gave hope to citizens on Tuesday by saying they are “very close” to making and finalizing these decisions soon.

“I’ve spoken to Dr. Shahab about this frequently. He just wants to see the new case and hospitalization numbers remain stable for a few more days,” stated Moe. “If that occurs, we should have more to say about household restrictions possibly by early next week.”

The current public health measures are in effect until March 19.


Delaying vaccines to get first dose to everyone


The Saskatchewan government may choose to delay second vaccine doses by four months so everyone in the province can receive their first dose by the end of June.

Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab indicated on Tuesday that there has been information from British Columbia, Quebec and the United Kingdom that suggests one dose can be effective for as long as four months.

Shahab suggested this could be a big step in putting the pandemic behind us, however he emphasized the importance of residents going in to get their first shot when it’s made available to them.

“We are working very closely with our partners in other provinces and with our federal partners. We have also been looking at recommendations by the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) which we think should support delaying the second dose to four months,” explained Shahab. “What that will do is it will really accelerate our first dose program.”


More vaccines on the way


Shahab also noted how 15,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are set to arrive this month in Saskatchewan after it was recently approved by Health Canada.

Following its approval, NACI recommended against using the AstraZeneca vaccine in people 65 years of age and older despite Health Canada authorizing it for adults of all ages.

Dr. Shahab said it’s not that it’s not good for people 65 and older, but there is stronger evidence indicating it should be used for people 18 to 64 for now.

“We’ll get very limited amounts of the AstraZeneca vaccine next week and we will probably use it for specific age groups up to age 64,” shared Shahab. “We will clarify which specific age groups in the coming days.”

Alberta announced on Tuesday that Albertans ages 65 and up will not receive the AstraZeneca vaccine as per the immunization committee’s advice.

Saskatchewan will receive about 112,000 COVID-19 vaccines in March made up of Pfizer and Moderna doses.

Premier Moe said as the availability of these doses increases, so will the availability of appointments. Moe expects the appointment booking system online and by phone will be launched next week.

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