Sask. vaccinations stalled as province waits for doses

·3 min read

Saskatchewan has administered more than 34,080 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with 0.32 per cent of the province's population now fully vaccinated after having received a second dose.

However, Premier Scott Moe says the province is now "virtually out of vaccines." With no new shipments coming this week, vaccinations will not proceed until the start of February.

"Our health-care workers will continue to administer thousands of shots a day throughout the province, just as quickly as those vaccines are delivered to our province by the federal government," Moe said.

"We'll continue to press the federal government to do everything that they can to deliver more vaccines to Saskatchewan communities more quickly, and also to look to approving additional types of COVID vaccines for use here in Canada."

Part of the reason for the delay is that Pfizer is not sending any shipments of its COVID-19 vaccine to Canada this week. The company is briefly interrupting distribution as it overhauls its production facility in Belgium to account for high demand.

Pfizer is scheduled to send 5,850 vaccine doses to Saskatchewan on Feb. 1.

"[These] will be distributed to Saskatoon, Regina, North Battleford, Yorkton and Swift Current," said Moe. "This will allow us to continue vaccinating our long-term care residents, staff, and others that are over 70 years of age."

The province also expects 6,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine in early February. These will be distributed to the far northwest, far northeast, northeast and central west regions of the province.

The province expects 7,100 more doses from Moderna later in the month, on Feb. 22.

In the meantime, Moe said the best thing people can do to ensure their safety is to continue following the public health guidelines, which were recently extended for another three weeks.

"That is how we will continue to reduce the spread of COVID-19 until we are able to get most of our population vaccinated, and then life can actually get back to normal," he said.

Saskatchewan NDP leader Ryan Meili said he hopes the government will take the opportunity during this delay in vaccinations to clarify some of its communications around when and how people will be able to get vaccinated.

"It has been chaotic in terms of the communication and the delivery of the vaccine so far," he said.

"I hope the government will take this time to better prepare the delivery mechanisms and logistics and give a clear message so that we don't have so many people out there saying 'I'm a health-care worker, but I don't see where I am on the list,' or, 'I'm a senior, but I don't see where I am on this list.' "

Meili recently received his first dose of the vaccine after participating in a "vaccine blitz" at a long-term care home in Saskatoon with other medical professionals.

"In that particular vaccine blitz, we had excess doses, and they were going to be thrown away," he said. "So while I had earlier refused an offer to be vaccinated, those staff members — including myself — who were unvaccinated did get the vaccine that day."

Meili said he hopes others will do the same as soon as more doses become available.

"My big message is, if you get the chance, if you get that call from the SHA, go get the vaccine," he said. "It's really important."