Sask. leans on increased vaccine deliveries to pick up the pace of COVID-19 shots
REGINA -- The Government of Saskatchewan is hoping a larger, more consistent supply of vaccines over the next few weeks will help speed up its delivery plan.
Saskatchewan will open up vaccine bookings to anyone 40-and-over and more priority groups on Friday. The government is asking residents to be patients and flexible when attempting to secure an appointment.
"I would encourage somebody, if they don’t get an appointment close to them, to look at just outside their borders or maybe to the next town or the next clinic," Health Minister Paul Merriman said. "There are open appointments across the province right now."
The wait between booking an appointment and actually getting the shot should be between five and 10 days, according to the minister.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) said appointment availability varies for each region of the province and demand continues to exceed supply.
"As we receive updated information on vaccine allocations new appointments are added to the system, this may occur concurrent with appointments or may be added to future dates," the SHA said in a statement to CTV News.
Appointments in the province’s two biggest centres have been hard to come by, but Merriman said the province has allocated more appointments to Regina and Saskatoon to attempt to meet the demand.
"We understand this is a large group of individuals coming through with 40 and we also opened it up to teachers and other organizations as well to make sure that they had an opportunity to get vaccinated," Merriman said.
In addition to teachers and educational staff working with students, firefighters, police and public health inspectors will also be eligible to book starting on Friday.
The minister said proof of employment will be needed to book an appointment or get a shot at a drive-thru or walk-in clinic.
"We would ask them just to get a letter or some confirmation that they’re employed in the services that are outlined, that would make it easier for us and it would streamline the process for everybody," Merriman said.
This week, the province also opened up vaccine appointments at select pharmacies with the goal of pharmacies eventually taking over the delivery of vaccines from the SHA.
"We want to be able to free up some of those SHA resources and bring them back into the healthcare system," Merriman said.
The NDP cautions that the public run vaccine delivery has been a big part of why the province’s rollout is leading the country.
"We’ve seen in other provinces that have struggled to get as much vaccine out where they’ve counted more on those private sector entities and not the larger public output," NDP leader Ryan Meili said.
Saskatchewan’s Pfizer allotment of vaccine is expected to double starting next week and that will allow for Regina’s drive-thru clinic to reopen after being closed for the past two weeks.
The health minister anticipates the drive-thru will be open again on Sunday and for a few days next week depending on vaccine supply.