Sask. sees increase in COVID-19 shots ahead of proof-of-vaccination policy
Saskatchewan is nearing another milestone in its effort to get COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of residents.
As of Friday, approximately 79.72 per cent of eligible people in the province have received their first shot. When it comes to second doses, 71.2 per cent of those eligible have the double dose and are fully vaccinated.
“The hope is that if 80 per cent of people get their first dose, then also that 80 per cent of people will decide to get their second dose,” said ICU physician Dr. Hassan Masri.
“At that point, it may show some significant difference (in ICU admissions).”
According to Health Canada, the province ranks last in the country for vaccination rates.
Masri said low vaccination rates directly translate into what he sees in Saskatoon’s intensive care units.
“Almost all of our patients are unvaccinated,” Masri said.
“Our ICUs are full and we expect the situation to worsen quite a bit over the next few days.”
Saskatchewan did see a bump in COVID-19 immunizations after Premier Scott Moe announced on Sept. 17 that a proof-of-vaccination policy would come into effect on Oct. 1.
From Sept. 18-24, health-care workers administered nearly 25,000 total doses of vaccine – an increase of about 9,500 from Sept. 11-17. The average number of first shots given each day doubled, jumping from just over 1,000 to 2,114 the next week.
“It won’t be until a good six weeks from now that they will be fully protected with the two doses of vaccine,” said epidemiologist Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine.
“Six weeks in a Delta variant-driven surge is a long time.”
Second doses also saw a slight boost. The average number of second shots per day was 1,187 for Sept. 11-17; that rose to 1,437 for Sept. 18-24.
“Vaccination is an important way out of this pandemic, but it is not the only way,” Muhajarine said.
“We also need several layers of protection.”
Muhajarine said employee proof of vaccination should extend beyond government workers to places like schools and private corporations. He added, it is also time to reintroduce restrictions on social gatherings.
Premier Scott Moe has previously encouraged businesses to follow suit in regards to the proof of vaccination requirements for government employees. Health officials have said they are monitoring hospitalization and new case numbers weekly, and further measures could be introduced, if necessary.