An early holiday gift will soon be on its way to Saskatchewan as another shipment of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is expected to arrive in Saskatoon next week, as early as December 21.
The first step of Phase 1 of the Vaccine Delivery Plan will be begin next week as 1,950 health care workers in Saskatoon ICUs, Emergency Departments, Covid Units, testing and assessment centres will receive their initial dose of the vaccine at Merlis Belcher Place at the University of Saskatchewan. Recipients will receive their second dose three to four weeks later.
“Saskatchewan has been ready to receive and waiting to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine, as I said last week,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said. “So it was welcome news when we learned that the first shipment would arrive before the holidays. I consider this the best gift to see more health care workers in our province being immunized, and look forward to delivering it to more of the people at highest risk.”
Phase 1 of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine Delivery Plan focuses on immunizing priority populations who are at a higher risk of exposure to the virus as well as those more at risk of serious illness. This includes health care workers, staff and residents of long-term care facilities, those in the 80 plus range, residents over 50 in northern and remote areas and as the supply of vaccine allows, those 70 to 79 years of age.
In addition, the immunization pilot in Regina is expanding to include more health care professionals. The pilot, which includes 1,950 health care workers, will now expand to key frontline staff in the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and anesthetists. Additional priority groups are being considered depending on uptake.
Since Tuesday 250 people have received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine (11 on December 15 and 239 on December 16). There are 301 people booked to receive the vaccine today.
“These additional groups have been identified given they are also at higher-risk of contracting COVID-19, and because of their work with at-risk patients,” SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said. “Of course, our supplies are limited, so we will look to continue providing additional doses to these groups as more vaccine is received.”
Officials are using lessons learned in the pilot for the logistics of transporting, storing and distributing the vaccine. Health Canada approval of the Moderna vaccine is expected soon, which could mean a shipment to Saskatchewan later this month. The Moderna vaccine can be stored in regular temperature freezers which will make it easier to transport to and use in smaller, rural centres.
Widespread vaccine access to begin immunization of the general population will be part of Phase 2 of the delivery plan, tentatively beginning in April 2021, which is why it is critical for all Saskatchewan residents to continue following public health orders and measures while the vaccination program is delivered.
For more information on Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 vaccine planning, visit https://www.saskatchewan.ca/COVID19-vaccine.