REGINA -- The Government of Saskatchewan launched a media campaign to encourage residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine when they become eligible.

The campaign features Saskatchewan people who share their individual stories of why getting vaccinated is important to them. Some of the people featured in the campaign are:

  • George Reed, Rider legend
  • Leah Sawatsky, Emergency Room Nurse in Regina
  • Emily. Elder from the Lac La Ronge Indian Band
  • Dr. Hassan Masri, an ICU Physician in Saskatoon
  • Kyla, mother of an immunocompromised child near Swift Current
  • Darcy, a small business owner in Regina

“The main 60-second advertisement is narrated by Regina ER Nurse Leah Sawatsky, who has worked on the front-lines throughout the pandemic and was one of the first people in the province to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” the province said in a news release. “…the ad thanks the people of the province for all of their efforts during the pandemic and calls on Saskatchewan people to roll up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine when it is their turn.”

The second part of the campaign will feature 11 Saskatchewan people, and seven supporting ads will launch in the coming days.

Moni Snell, a neonatal nurse practitioner in Regina, was one of the health care professionals who took part in the campaign to inspire more people to get vaccinated.

“We know that to reach herd immunity, we need at least 70 per cent of us to get [the vaccine],” Snell said. “The vaccine is going to be what brings us out of this pandemic. So in spite of those who don’t believe in getting it, if we can get 70 per cent of us to get the vaccine we will protect those who don’t believe in the science.”

Snell works in the NICU at the Regina General Hospital. On her days off, she works at the mass immunization clinic to play her part in getting everyone vaccinated.

She said the changes her profession has seen over the past year is largely what inspired her to take part in the campaign.

“In the NICU we become like their family, we become very close to them because the babies are sometimes with us for months. It’s natural to want to bond with these parents, to want to put a hand on their shoulder when they’re having a bad day, to give a mom a hug,” she said. “Now we’re all like strangers.”

She said having everyone masked played a role in those changes.

“What we noticed is that the dynamic of our interactions changed. You can’t see the parents’ faces, they can’t see our faces, they can only see our eyes,” Snell said.

She also considers how the babies’ development will be affected because they are not able to see, mimic and react to facial expressions.

“We are now holding babies but all they can see is our eyes. Our voices are coming at them but they don’t see our lips moving, they don’t see us smiling,” she explained. “It worries me that how are our babies going to develop - are they going to be months behind?”

Snell said although these measures were all necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19, she’s eager for vaccinations to happen so they can get back to normal.

Jenni Senger, a grade five and six teacher in Moose Jaw, is also part of the vaccine campaign.

“My story was that online learning is hard, virtual learning is hard, learning in a mask is hard, staying separated is hard,” Senger said. “We’re ready to get back to normal. We’re ready to do field trips, we’re ready to work as groups and have more fun again.”

She said the pandemic has been hard on both students and staff and she hopes that when the general public watches the campaign, they’ll see that.

“I hope that they’ll just see how much this is affecting kids. I mean teachers too, but mostly kids. We just want them to enjoy school,” she said. “They just want to go back to normal.”

The ads will be featured across TV, radio, social media as well as physical locations around the province. In northern Saskatchewan, the ads will broadcast on the radio in Cree and Dene.