REGINA -- Two Saskatchewan health care workers became the first people in the province to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, on Tuesday evening.

Dr. Jeffrey Betcher, the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s critical care lead for the Regina area, and Leah Sawatsky, a Regina emergency room nurse, received the first two doses of the vaccine.

Saskatchewan Vaccines

Leah Sawatsky (left), a Regina emergency room nurse, and Dr. Jeffrey Betcher (right), the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s critical care lead for the Regina area, received Saskatchewan's first COVID-19 vaccine doses.

The first round of COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived in Saskatchewan on Tuesday afternoon. The immunization of 1,950 local healthcare workers began at 6 p.m. at Regina’s General Hospital.

The pilot is part of the provinces Vaccine Delivery Plan, and is the first in a series of steps to deliver the  vaccine to the general public.

The first doses to arrive will go to healthcare workers in ICUs, emergency and COVID-19 units at Regina’s Pasqua and General Hospitals. Some quantity of the immunization will also go to staff of COVID-19 testing centres.

Recipients of the pilot will receive a second dose 21 days following the first dose, during Phase 1, set to begin near to end of the month.

“I have seen the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the patients I have cared for in the intensive care unit, as well as its effects on their families,” Critical Care Physician Dr. Jeffrey Betcher said. “Accepting the vaccine is part of my responsibility as a physician. It will protect me, my patients, my colleagues, friends and family.”

Dr. Betcher is one of the first health care workers to receive the Pfizer- BioNTech vaccine in the province.

covid-19 vaccine sask

(Supplied: Government of Saskatchewan)

The province said it expects 202,052 doses of the vaccine in the first quarter of 2021, and that widespread access should begin in April.