Sask. prepares for mass immunization
February 23, 2021, 10:01 am
Spencer Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Government of Saskatchewan released the next steps in their COVID-19 immunization delivery plan late last week.
This plan first began in December 2020 with a pilot program that saw 1,950 health care workers immunized. Currently, Phase 1 of Saskatchewan’s Immunization Delivery Plan is underway. Phase 1 focuses on the immunization of health care workers that are more likely to be in contact with COVID-19 positive individuals as well as individuals ages 70 and up.
Phase 2 is expected to begin in Regina in April, 2021, then expand to other communities as vaccine supply is made available. Phase 2 will focus on the mass immunization on the general public in 10-year age increments, starting with ages 60-69 and then working downwards to younger groups. Once the 60-69 group is immunized, the vaccines will be administered to the 50-59 age group, then 40-49, and so forth down to the population aged 18 and 16. Age groupings may expand under the age of 50 if supplies are low.
Vaccinations for residents and staff at emergency shelters and group homes for people with intellectual disabilities as well as vulnerable adults will be prioritized in Phase 2.
The Government of Saskatchewan says that vaccinating by age groups will enable the quickest way to vaccinate the largest number of residents possible.
Residents will be able to access the vaccine through appointments that can be booked online or via 811 or through non-appointment drive-thru clinics and participating pharmacies. The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) will operate 230 clinics in over 180 communities across the province to vaccinate Saskatchewan residents.
Community pharmacies will also be permitted to offer vaccination services in nearly 130 communities in Saskatchewan after the Government of Saskatchewan came to an agreement with the Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan on details surrounding the distribution of the vaccines.
A total of 149 mass immunization clinics will be set up alongside 23 drive-thru clinics and 58 mobile clinics.
Currently, Pfizer and Moderna are the only two COVID-19 vaccines approved by Health Canada for use, and each vaccine is 95 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19. A total of two doses are required for the vaccine to be effective. Saskatchewan is expecting to receive 191,300 doses of the vaccine by the end of March 2021 with a total of 124,800 Pfizer vaccines and 66,500 Moderna vaccines.
There are, however, concerns regarding the scarcity of the vaccine as production has slowed. The Government of Saskatchewan does not yet know how much this will impact the expected supply.
So far, the province is reporting minimal impact due to the scarcity of vaccines, but expect that it may impact the coming supplies.
Through the different clinics, there will be various options for scheduled and unscheduled vaccination appointments. The volume of each location is to be closely monitored by location and type with services being adjusted to meet the community’s needs.
Mass immunization clinics are the most common type of clinic that will be found in communities across Saskatchewan. Residents are to schedule appointments and arrive at their designated time where they will be screened and vaccinated. Residents will be required to wait a minimum of 15 minutes before leaving to ensure there are no adverse effects.
Drive-thru clinics will not require appointments and will utilize separate entry and exit areas. Immunizers will deliver vaccinations from outside the vehicles. After immunization, residents will have to wait a minimum of 15 minutes to ensure there are no adverse effects.
Mobile clinics will act much like the mass immunization clinics but are designed to function in rural and remote areas.
Even with mass vaccination on its way to Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe warns the public to remain vigilant.
“Until we have at least a vast majority of Saskatchewan people visiting a site like this, at least with their first does then ultimately their second does, and they’re vaccinated against this virus, we need to keep our guard up. We need to follow the protocols, the recommendations, and the guidance that Dr. Shahab and his team have provided us with.” Moe said in a release.
He adds that even though the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions affect day-to-day lives, they are necessary in preventing the spread of the virus.
The hours of operation for each clinic outside of Regina and Saskatoon is tentatively 12 hours per day, Monday-Friday, and eight hours per day on Saturday and Sunday.
The vaccination will be available for as long as it is needed.
To book an appointment, residents are asked to visit https://www.saskatchewan.ca/ or call 811.
A valid Saskatchewan Health Card is required to book an appointment. Tweet