Saskatchewan youth aged 12 to 17 will have the chance to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment beginning on Thursday, the province's health minister has confirmed.
Currently, only people aged 16 and up can do so.
Minister Paul Merriman also announced Tuesday that vaccine clinics will begin opening inside Saskatchewan schools in early June, though he encouraged all eligible people to get vaccinated as soon as they can at existing clinics, pharmacies or drive-thrus.
In all, some 90,000 doses are being earmarked for elementary and high school students 12 and up.
The second round of doses for students is expected to begin as early as July.
High schools will be prioritized during the initial launch of the school vaccination drive, said Derek Miller, who is leading vaccination efforts for the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).
Precise schedules are being discussed with school boards, Miller added.
As of now, children aged 12 and up in Canada are only approved to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
Details on consent
The health authority's CEO Scott Livingstone said youth aged 13 and over can provide their own written consent. Consent for both doses can be provided through one form.
"But I think it's very important for the family to sit down and [have] those conversations, particularly with kids, regardless of their age, to ensure that there's no nervousness or hesitancy around receiving the vaccine," Livingstone said.
Impact on other areas
According to a news release, SHA drive-thru, walk-in and booked appointments will be "reduced" during the school immunizations for about three weeks "to ensure this group is immunized prior to the end of the school year."
During a news conference, officials clarified this means drive-thrus and walk-in clinics will only operate from Fridays to Sundays during those three weeks.
Pharmacy booked appointments will continue to be available to all eligible age categories.