The number of school-age youth vaccinated could have an impact on how seniors get their second dose in Saskatchewan.
As of Wednesday, 13,551 of the 90,987 youth aged 12 to 17 in the province have received their first dose. Next week, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) will start its in-school vaccination program.
Last week, the SHA said it would reduce booked appointments in June to accommodate the in-school program. On Tuesday, SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said that plan is being looked at as more youth get vaccinated prior to the school program.
Livingstone said the SHA will continue with booked appointments until the end of this month and perhaps into June, depending on how the school plan goes.
He said the SHA is supporting pharmacies and Indigenous Services Canada with their immunization efforts.
Livingstone said recent changes to storage temperature guidance of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will "make it a lot easier for pharmacies to book appointments."
Last week, Health Canada announced it had authorized a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech to allow the vaccine to be stored at temperatures of between 2 C and 8 C for up to a month — up from the previous five-day limit.
On May 17, the Saskatchewan government started offering second doses to residents 85 and over, or anyone who received the first dose before Feb. 15.
Once eligible, people can get second doses by booking an SHA appointment (while offered), or using a drive-thru or walk-in clinic, or a pharmacy.
On Wednesday, the Saskatchewan government added information to its pharmacy page including links to pharmacy booking websites and details on the vaccine brand being offered at each location.
SHA to get 'innovative' with clinics
Livingstone said to reach communities that may not be vaccinated, the authority will get "innovative."
"We can focus more of our resources on those specialty type clinics, like the newcomers, like some of the things we've done with homeless shelters," he said.
"We're going to allow families to come to the school to be vaccinated with their kids. The team has been told to examine any option to make the vaccine available to Saskatchewan residents using any means possible."
Premier Scott Moe said Tuesday that the government is constantly reviewing what is and is not working with its vaccine rollout.
"I think there is a place for [appointments] to remain for maybe our elderly residents trying to access their second shot, maybe some of our many rural communities accessing their second shot," Moe said.
Moe said including pharmacies is a major component of Saskatchewan's second shot strategy, because it allows health -are staff to move back to their roles within the SHA.
"Sooner or later, we're going to need to transition all of those employees back into offering the health-care services that our health-care system is there to provide."