Moderna vaccine coming to Saskatchewan

·3 min read

Regina– With Health Canada’s approval of the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19, Saskatchewan is anticipating 4,900 doses to arrive in the province the week of Dec. 28, according to a Ministry of Health news release on Dec. 23.

“The approval of the Moderna vaccine means more high-risk Saskatchewan residents will be able to be immunized against COVID-19,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said. “This vaccine allows us to continue with our Phase 1 plans to target residents where they are living and working, whether in long term care and personal care homes, in northern and remote communities and in health care staff outside our major centres.”

The Moderna vaccine is approved for people 18 years and over. It requires two doses, 28 days apart, as opposed to the Pfizer vaccine, which requires a second dose 21 days later. The Moderna vaccine requires refrigeration, but not at the ultra-cold temperature required for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, greatly simplifying logistics and distribution. This will allow public health to distribute this vaccine to more locations throughout the province, as the vaccine becomes available.

Phase 1 of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine Delivery Plan focuses on immunizing priority populations who are at a higher risk of exposure to the virus as well as those more at risk of serious illness. Moderna vaccinations will target long term care and personal care home residents and staff; front-line health care workers most at risk for COVID-19 exposure; residents 80 years and older; and all residents 50 years and older living in northern and remote communities, as supply allows.

To Dec, 22, 2020, 1,597 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine have been provided to health care workers in Regina as part of the initial pilot and Saskatoon as part of Phase 1.

Widespread vaccine access to begin immunization of the general population will be part of Phase 2 of the delivery plan, tentatively beginning in April 2021.

As the COVID-19 vaccine is targeting the most at-risk populations as supply allows, it is necessary for all residents to continue to abide by public health orders to reduce transmission, the Ministry noted, adding, “Wash your hands frequently; wear a mask in public places; maintain physical distancing; and stay home if you are experiencing even mild symptoms.”

Premier Scott Moe said in a Facebook post, “I am pleased to hear the Moderna vaccine has been approved in Canada. We should begin receiving our first doses in Saskatchewan next week.

“Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine does not require the extreme low temperatures for storage. This will allow for easier transportation, accessibility and delivery across our province. Our first priority for the Moderna vaccines will be far north and long-term care facilities, according to our sequencing plan.

“We still have a long way to go but today’s announcement gets us one step closer to the finish line. Until then, keep following all the public health orders and guidelines to keep yourself and those around you safe.”

Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury