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Sask. vaccination rates lag as COVID-19 continues to claim lives

Saskatchewan continues to struggle with low vaccination rates as COVID-19 deaths persist, according to the latest data released by the province.

The newest Community Respiratory Illness Surveillance Program (CRISP) situation report, which covers the period between Jan. 29 and Feb. 11, reveals that fewer than half of people in the province over the age of 50 have received more than one booster dose.

Only 20 per cent of those 12 and older have received a bivalent booster dose tailored to fight the dominant Omicron strain of COVID-19.

As vaccination rates lag, COVID-19 remains the leading cause of respiratory-related hospitalizations, with 18 people's deaths linked to the virus over the reporting period, all of whom were over the age of 60.

Since the start of the year, 37 deaths have been linked to COVID-19, while no deaths have been linked to influenza.

According to the report, the risk of dying from COVID-19 is four times lower in patients who have had a booster dose within the past six months.

When compared to completely unvaccinated patients, the risk of death was eight times lower for those with a recent booster dose.

The province did report a drop in COVID-19 cases, down from 275 to 207 in the previous report, while the COVID-19 test positivity rate only slightly decreased from 6.4 per cent to 6.1 per cent.

Health care experts in the province urge the public to still be cautious, and to protect themselves against the new strains of the virus.

“It’s important that we do observe a few things more consistently, which is staying home when you get sick, which I think more people are doing now since before the pandemic,” said Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province's Chief Medical Health Officer. “And getting your booster shot, your bivalent vaccine, if you haven’t done so in the past six months.”

He added that while people who have contracted COVID-19 in the last six months can continue to wait, those who have not need to get their boosters to stop the drastic effects that could keep them in hospitals.

The strain on the health care system continues, despite federal funding approved by the premiers across Canada.

“Health care hasn’t had a day off over the last three years and that’s also important for not only getting your bivalent vaccine to protect you and others around you it also helps to keep pressure off the health care system,” said the Chief Medical Officer.

“I’m sick of hearing about it, I’m sick of talking about it, but it is still real and I think some people are forgetting it’s still out there, so it’s okay that the conversation is still going,” one Regina resident told CTV News.

While some people think life is back to normal, others in the community know COVID-19 still poses a threat.

“Not quite yet, no. There’s still different variants and stuff going around and that, so it's not perfect yet,” another man told CTV News. Top Stories

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