COVID-19 vaccine uptake slower in some of Saskatchewan's far north communities

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REGINA — A health official serving Saskatchewan's northernmost communities says plans are in place to move any leftover COVID-19 vaccine, after slower than expected vaccinations have left some doses waiting to be used.

The executive director of primary health care for the Athabasca Health Authority says it has about 290 Moderna vaccine doses left out of 710 that arrived on Jan. 6.

Derek Keller says the doses were divided among the region's remote communities.

He says all doses in Stony Rapids were used, but it has been slower going in the First Nation communities of Fond-du-Lac and Black Lake.

Keller says there has been online misinformation about vaccine safety and that two people who got shots ended up in hospital with COVID-19.

He says the two people were exposed to the virus before they were vaccinated.

Because the doses were thawed, Keller says they have to be used by Feb. 6.

He added that any doses remaining by the end of Friday will be sent to the community of Hatchet Lake to ensure none is wasted.

“If I would do it again, I would have waited a week and got the freezer conditioned and then we could have paced ourselves a lot better and there wouldn’t be this impending crisis here in the next week about moving vaccines," Keller said Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan.28, 2020

The Canadian Press