Today Health Minister Paul Merriman and Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone announce how the Phase 2 rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine will be managed. In Saskatchewan Phase 2 will see the mass vaccination of the general population and it will be based primarily on age increments, but will also include group homes, emergency shelters, and people with underlying health conditions that are clinically extremely vulnerable. In defence of this type of rollout scheme, Minister Merriman said this will be the fastest way to get the most vaccine “into people’s arms”. While many different groups have presented the minister with reasons why they should be among those to be at the front of the line when it comes to Phase 2, Merriman affirmed that the age-grouping is the easiest and quickest way to make sure people get the vaccine. This is the most easily verifiable way of knowing who would be able to book appointments.
Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone said they will be utilizing other ways of contacting eligible patients as more vaccine becomes available, such as through newspaper and radio ads and direct phone calls. For those waiting for the second dose of the vaccine, they will be contacted directly by phone to be advised that they can receive it.
“We’re also … in the process of implementing an online scheduling system, mostly to support phase two where we’ll see much larger vaccine, but we’re trying to approach it in a multi-factorial way, but again, we’re still learning,” said Livingstone after problems with accessing appointments and awareness of their availability were identified with the pop-up clinics which were held in the North Central zone in late January. In early March Scott Livingstone said, the SHA’s online appointment booking system and toll-free telephone line will be operational. All clinic and registration details will be available at www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19-vaccine. Information will also be shared via advertising in local media, social media, online ads, local publications, posters, direct mail and news conferences.
When it comes time for the Phase 2 rollout, SHA will have 226 clinics in 181 communities and that includes mass immunization sites in Wakaw, Birch Hills, Cudworth, Middle Lake, and Rosthern. As well the SHA will be working with participating pharmacies and physician’s offices who are usually involved in the regular flu clinics. Minister Merriman said this will be an “all hands on deck approach” to the vaccination rollout. The SHA expects to need 2200 individuals to operate the clinics it is setting up. Once vaccinated individuals will have proof of vaccination both electronically, through e-Health, and they will receive a wallet card with a record of their COVID-19 vaccination. The electronic record is also stored on MySaskHealthRecord. To Register for MySaskHealthRecord go to ehealthsask.ca
Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder