Sask. says it's ready to distribute vaccines 'quickly and safely' as soon as they're available

·2 min read
Sask. says it's ready to distribute vaccines 'quickly and safely' as soon as they're available

Saskatchewan says it has a robust plan to distribute COVID-19 vaccines as soon as the federal government makes them available — and the "majority" of the population could be vaccinated by mid-spring.

Provincial Minister of Health Paul Merriman said at a news conference Wednesday that health-care workers and residents in long-term care homes will be the first to get the vaccine.

"We actually have a very robust plan that Dr. Shahab was involved with back with H1N1 when we did that vaccine across our province. We also have one of the highest immunization rates in our country." said Merriman.

He said the Saskatchewan Health Authority is expected to present its vaccine delivery plan sometime next week.

"We vaccinate, over four to six weeks, more than a third of the population with influenza every year," said Saskatchewan's Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab.

"We are fully equipped to be able to manage as many vaccines as we can."

Merriman said the distribution will be a huge undertaking involving thousands of health-care workers and support staff, but that the public can be assured that the province will be ready to get the vaccine out "quickly and safely."

"The federal government is now saying the first deliveries will be early in the new year," Merriman said.

He says there is not an exact timeline for when the vaccines will arrive.

Saskatchewan's is set to receive is 180,000 doses in the first quarter of 2021. That will be enough to vaccinate 90,000 people.

"This is just based on the deliveries from Pfizer and Moderna," said Merriman.

Shahab says residents can expect to see an increase in vaccine supply by March or April and that the "majority" of the population could be vaccinated by April and May.

Merriman also said that this week two more companies have also applied to have vaccines approved. He said this could result in more vaccines being delivered quickly.

"The finish line is when we have delivered a safe, effective vaccine to a significant number of Saskatchewan residents," said Merriman.

"That's where life can truly start getting back to normal."