REGINA -- The Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) is urging the government to pivot from their age-based vaccine strategy and immediately vaccinate all essential workers, including healthcare workers who have not yet received their first dose.

SMA president Dr. Barb Konstantynowicz said she is “gravely concerned” about the government’s refusal to veer off course from the current approach. In a press release, Dr. Konstantynowicz said it will lead to more COVID-19 deaths and will result in healthcare delays for non-COVID patients.

“They need to be vaccinated immediately. Failure to do so jeopardizes the safety of physicians and health-care workers, as well as police officers, teachers, grocery workers, and others who are on the front line and are most at risk,” said Dr. Konstantynowicz.

The SMA president said she believes Saskatchewan’s vaccine distribution effort should be able to adapt as needed, given the effectiveness of the process so far.

“We need to use all opportunities in the battle against COVID-19 and its [variants of concern] wisely,” Dr. Konstantynowicz said. “The current age-based vaccination strategy will not get us through the challenges the province is facing.”

On Monday, Premier Scott Moe said the current age-based criteria is the “most efficient and quickest way” for everyone, including frontline workers, to have access to the vaccine.

“The challenge we have with changing the priority moving forward, is it’s going to slow down our ability to deliver the high volume of vaccines that we’ve been unable to thus far,” said Moe.