'Micro-targeting' strategies in development to address low COVID-19 vaccine uptake in some Sask. communities
Saskatchewan health officials are working on a plan to address low COVID-19 vaccine uptake in a number of communities around the province.
Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, said while case rates are lowering at the provincial level, some communities are seeing “clusters” of cases pop up.
“We have pockets of high case clusters, especially in parts of the province where vaccination rates are low,” Shahab said. “There seems to be a tight correlation between that.”
As a result, the province is working on a “micro-targeting” strategy, to attempt to raise vaccination rates in specific communities.
Premier Scott Moe said the Saskatchewan Health Authority is working alongside pharmacies to make more vaccinations available in some rural and remote communities that have lower vaccination rates.
Shahab said it is “critical” that the province work community to community in specific areas to increase vaccine uptake. The province has rolled out door-to-door vaccination campaigns and pop-up clinics in rural and remote areas previously, with varying results between communities.
“Those are the efforts that are being made and have to be made in the days ahead, in order for us to really target those communities that might have a little bit lower vaccination rate, to not only make those vaccines available, but to bring it right to your doorstep in some cases,” Moe said.
Marlo Pritchard, president of the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA), said discussions are ongoing between the SHA, Ministry of Health and SPSA to develop and roll out community-specific vaccination strategies.
The plans for individual communities will be developed with input from local leaders and health care staff. Shahab said the locally devised strategies will look to address potential accessibility issues and provide education about the shot.
Pritchard said the province will provide more details about local vaccination strategies as they are developed in the coming days and weeks.
As of Thursday, Dr. Shahab said 87 per cent of the province has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 82 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Both Shahab and the premier attributed the lowering case rates and rising vaccine uptake to the province’s public health orders, which will be in effect until at least Jan. 31, 2022.
“Since the implementation of these simple measures over September, October, we have seen a gradual decline in case rate and we’ve also seen an increase in vaccination rates,” Shahab said.
“We really hope that if you stay the course over December and January, with the extension of these measures, we will have a safe, happy holiday season.”