Here's a look at Sask.'s latest update to the COVID-19 vaccine delivery plan
FILE - In this Wednesday, June 24, 2020 file photo, a volunteer receives a COVID-19 injection at the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Pool via AP, File)
REGINA -- The provincial government has updated its plan for delivering the COVID-19 vaccine to Saskatchewan residents.
According to the government’s original plan outlined in December, the province identified 190,000 in priority populations it aimed to immunize in the first phase of the rollout.
The province said on Thursday, based on federal allocations, it will not have enough vaccines to fully vaccinate the priority population – made up of health care workers in high-risk departments, long term care and personal care home residents and staff, residents between the ages of 70 and 80 and residents over the age of 50 living in remote areas and northern Saskatchewan.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) estimated it will fall short of immunizing the high priority population by about 50 per cent.
Saskatchewan is scheduled to receive around 100,000 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of February.
On Tuesday, Premier Scott Moe said the federal government has told Saskatchewan it can expect a total of 190,000 Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by the end of March, but the distribution schedule for April onwards has not yet been released by Ottawa.
“We are going to be, and currently are, dealing with limited and unpredictable allocations. We hope to see this resolved in the coming weeks as more is known about our supply chain for the COVID-19 vaccine,” Derek Miller, SHA Executive Director of Infrastructure Management, said Thursday.
The feds expect vaccine shipments to Canada to ramp up as the country enters Phase Two of the national immunization campaign – officials are expecting to receive approximately one million doses from manufacturers each week.
The province said it is not looking to change its plan to open immunization to the general population in the spring yet, but there are logistical hurdles that could send the plan into flux.
“We have planning figures for vaccine delivery that takes us out to the end of March. Beyond that, it's unknown in terms of what the quantities would be and the delivery schedules we’re planning based on those numbers. They don't necessarily represent confirmed deliveries,” said Derek Miller.
Another obstacle that could impact vaccine deliveries across the province is the weather. SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said the winter storm that swept through Saskatchewan Wednesday night sidelined a shipment of the Moderna vaccine that was scheduled for Thursday. The shipment will now come in on Friday.
The province’s Chief Medical Health Officer said he wants to see high vaccination rates as the province continues through its phased approach to the vaccine rollout.
“I would expect 100 per cent uptake in the most vulnerable long term care residents and primary care home residents,” said Dr. Saqib Shahab. “For health care workers and primary care, long term care staff, high uptake because there's the second layer of protection to existing residents and residents who may be admitted in the future.”
Shahab expects adults outside of priority populations to get vaccinated in the spring, and even if COVID-19 case numbers decline, he said that does not give people an excuse for skipping out on the shot.
“The vast majority of us should get the vaccine, it provides a very high level of clinical protection for us,” explained Shahab.
Shahab said depending on the outcomes of clinical trials, school-aged children could get the vaccine by July or August.
The province said everyone who is able to get a vaccine and wants one will be able to get one before the fall.
“Our plan is that anybody in this province who wants a vaccine will get a vaccine in their arm before September,” Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone said