REGINA -- The Government of Saskatchewan said it expects to receive approximately 180,000 doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

Speaking on Thursday, Saskatchewan’s Minister of Health Paul Merriman said the federal government has secured an initial batch of six million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed in the first quarter of 2021.

He said four million doses are expected from Pfizer and two million are expected from Moderna.

“The next few weeks will be very important, as it is pretty clear now that this pandemic will only end when we have a widespread distribution of a safe and effective vaccine,” he said.

Merriman said Saskatchewan health officials are currently developing a distribution plan. He added those at higher risk would be given priority.

“I expect that we will be vaccinating senior and frontline health care workers first,” Merriman said.

The Health Minister reiterated that until a vaccine is available, Saskatchewan people need to follow public health measures.

Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said it is unclear how many doses of a vaccine will be available in the subsequent batches.

“The vaccine pipeline is getting more and more clear, we already know that there may be vaccine available – a limited amount – starting January, February,” Shahab said. “We don’t know the details of how much vaccine will be available beyond February, but it will be coming in smaller amounts.”

Officials in both Alberta and Ontario shared on Wednesday specific numbers about how many vaccine doses those provinces expect to receive.

However, federal officials said there is uncertainty about the manufacturing and distribution of a vaccine and it is too early to lock in those specific details.

“There are many ongoing preliminary discussions around our plan to… roll out vaccines and deliver them across the country. We know that there is still uncertainty as to when those vaccines are going to be manufactured, they are still all in various stages of trials and as much as have signed contracts around delivery dates, we know there are many uncertainties still to come,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Thursday.

As of Thursday, mask use is mandatory in all indoor public places in Saskatchewan. The province added 98 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, and has 2,066 active cases.

With files from