The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has announced plans to end drive-thru vaccinations in a bid to shift focus from the general public to those who are under- and unvaccinated.
Drive-thru vaccinations and appointments booked through the SHA online system and 1-833-SASKVAX will be discontinued as of Aug. 8.
In their place, walk-in clinics will be made available in public venues throughout the province including retail stores, summer events, recreation areas, grocery stores, post-secondary campuses, powwows, provincial parks and community centres.
Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman said in a news release that the goal of this outreach is to increase vaccine uptake by meeting residents where they live, work and play.
"Achieving the highest possible vaccination rate is the best way to prevent COVID-19 transmission," he said. "The provincial vaccination program will not stop, but all residents are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the readily available and convenient clinic options available now through Aug. 8. First or second dose, now is the time to stick it to COVID."
More than 14,000 COVID-19 vaccinations have been delivered in Saskatchewan since Friday. So far 74 per cent of Saskatchewan residents 12 and older have had their first dose and 62 per cent have been fully vaccinated.
Dr. Joseph Blondeau, head clinical microbiologist at the SHA, said that trying a new approach to get people vaccinated is important, as people were not making optimal use of the former system.
"There were thousands upon thousands of empty booking slots that people were not utilizing, " he said. "I think we have to try something else to get to that percentage that remains unvaccinated. This I think is a good approach."
He also said the new approach will encourage more people to get vaccinated.
"This was consuming a lot of resources," he said. "I think that these resources can be spent elsewhere in a better way in order to try and get to those individuals that remain unvaccinated or remain partially vaccinated."