Health Minister Paul Merriman recently challenged Saskatchewan millennials to match the high COVID-19 vaccination numbers recorded so far among the province's older populations.
Like the cool kids say: Challenge accepted.
Statistics reported daily by the Ministry of Health show Saskatchewan residents in their 30s are taking their first doses at a rapid clip.
As of May 9, just over a quarter of Saskatchewan residents aged 30 to 39 — or 27 per cent of the province's estimated 183,246 thirtysomethings — had received their first dose of vaccine.
That level of vaccination, among one of the province's largest age populations, was reached only six days after the first chunk of the 30s cohort, people aged 37 to 39, were allowed to book vaccine appointments starting on May 4 —aside from any young workers or vulnerable people offered early doses, that is.
In the days since, eligibility has opened up to people aged 32 to 36.
But the 27-per-cent vaccination level reported Monday was reached even though remaining cohort members aged 30 and 31 only became eligible on Monday morning and therefore did not factor into those latest vaccine takeup numbers.
What's more, Saskatchewan residents in their 30s reached the benchmark of one quarter of their population receiving one dose more quickly than either people in their 40s or 50s.
By comparison, one quarter of fortysomethings were vaccinated with a single dose as of April 28 — 13 days after the first segment of that group, people aged 48 and 49, could book an appointment.
Meanwhile, 26 per cent of Saskatchewan people in their fifties had been inoculated once against COVID-19 as of April 12 — 11 days after the first segment of that group, people aged 58 and 59, became eligible for vaccination.
Seniors prioritized in rollout
Data on when people in their 60s reached the 25-per-cent first-dose level was not available at the time due to an update in the province's reporting systems, according to the ministry.
Exactly when people in their 70s and 80s hit that goal is also unclear because the ministry's table on vaccine uptake did not become a staple of its daily reporting until late March, by which point the vaccination of Saskatchewan's seniors was well underway.
However, by March 23, 30 per cent of Saskatchewan residents in their 70s had received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. That's 11 days after the first segment of people in that age group, people 76 and older, became eligible.
Many caveats should be noted when comparing vaccine take up between age groups, not the least of which is vaccine supply, which has ebbed and flowed at various points in Saskatchewan's vaccine rollout but increased considerably as of last week.
More location options, including drive-thrus and pharmacies, have launched since the early days of the vaccine rollout.
Also worth considering is that young prioritized health care workers may have been vaccinated early.
On the other hand, seniors and others living in care homes were also among those prioritized for early vaccination ahead of younger portions of the general population and had vaccine clinics come to them, as opposed to having to travel to a clinic or drive-thru.
As of Sunday, 88 per cent of Saskatchewan seniors aged 80 and over had received one dose — the highest uptake rate of any age group.
Initially, the Ministry of Health reported separately on vaccine levels among care home residents and seniors living independently. Now all seniors are simply recorded in the same age categories, regardless of whether they were inoculated while in a care home or not.
Merriman, the health minister, expressed hope late last week that the strong vaccination numbers among seniors would be bested by younger generations.
"It'd be very interesting to see if the millennials could take up that challenge," Merriman said. "They seem to be very interested in challenges these days. It seems to be the trending thing online."
For more stories of vaccinated Saskatchewan thirtysomethings, click here.