Sask. government aims to give first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adult residents by June

All adult residents in Saskatchewan will have access to their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by June, according to a statement by the provincial government on Thursday.

The government has also announced that second doses for Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines will be given after four months of receiving the first dose following an updated recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).

“Based on the evidence by NACI and its expertise in vaccine science, they are recommending that jurisdictions should maximize the number of people benefiting from the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by extending the interval between the first and second dose up to four months, in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply,” explained a release from the government on Thursday.

“Previous to this decision, we were far short of the doses needed to finish phase one of our vaccine program by April. Now we expect to substantially complete phase one in early April,” mentioned Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone during Thursday’s COVID-19 update in Regina. “This is great news and more vulnerable people will now get the protection from the vaccine they need sooner.”

The plan is to begin implementing this new recommendation on March 5 when all administered vaccines will be a first dose. Residents will be contacted when they are eligible to book their second dose appointment, based on completing the vaccination sequencing and supply.

Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said this update could help the province return to normal sooner than expected.

“Twelve months ago, we did not know when the pandemic was going to end. Most people thought 24 months,” stated Shahab. “Now we are looking at maybe 12 weeks and we can start coming out of it. But what we do need to do is be patient, we need to be ready to get vaccinated when our time comes.”

This second dose strategy will not apply to long-term care and personal care residents and staff who have yet to complete their COVID-19 inoculations and any existing second-dose appointments. Those set appointments for second doses will be completed as scheduled.

Plans for AstraZeneca vaccine in Sask.

The AstraZeneca vaccine will be administered starting March 22 in Saskatchewan. Doses will be sent to six major hubs throughout the province.

People ages 60-64 and phase one priority health care workers will be offered the first 15,500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Saskatchewan.

“Making vaccines available to the 60-64 age sequence group is being done as an exception to phase one criteria to align with the National Advisory Committee’s recommendation that AstraZeneca supply be targeted to those under 65,” added the government in their release.

All doses are expected to be fully administered within one week on a by-appointment basis. Health care workers will receive notification of their eligibility directly from the Saskatchewan Health Authority. Members of the public who are eligible will be able to book by phone.

The phone-in booking system is undergoing final testing in preparation of being launched next week. Residents are asked to not call 811 seeking a vaccination appointment; details on the booking process will be announced soon.

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