(Paul Sancya/AP - image credit)
Saskatchewan pharmacists will be helping deliver COVID-19 vaccines as part of Phase 2 of the province's rollout plan.
The province said Monday that it has reached a deal with pharmacists to give people COVID shots as part of the mass vaccination campaign scheduled to begin in April.
Pharmacists will deliver the COVID-19 vaccine through community pharmacies. This is in addition to the 230 centres run by the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan CEO Dawn Martin said there should be pharmacists ready to give the vaccine in almost all communities across the province.
"Roughly, we're looking at the same amount of pharmacies and pharmacists providing COVID vaccinations that provided flu shots," Martin said.
"So just about every community pharmacist out there will be helping out with this initiative one way or another, either by doing injections or by taking up other other work that is still critical, providing prescriptions and other services at pharmacies."
Martin said pharmacists will only need specific training for the COVID vaccine because they already deliver the flu vaccine.
The shots will be free for the public. The province said it has negotiated the fee pharmacists will charge the health-care system for each COVID-19 vaccination.
Pharmacists will receive a fee of $20 from the government for each vaccine they give.
"It's going to help deal with some of the costs to having this happen within a very, very short period of time," Martin said.
Details of the plan for pharmacy delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine is still under development, including which community pharmacies are participating, said a government news release.
Appointment booking won't start just yet
Martin said people likely won't be able to just walk in to get a shot, and they will have to co-ordinate with the government in setting up appointments to make sure they are as efficient as possible.
"There might be an appointment system that the government puts together or there might be something else," she said.
"What we don't want is a race and several appointments being made by one individual sort of thing. We've got to track that vaccine with a fine-toothed comb and just make sure that it's getting into people's arms and that we're not risking any wastage."
Which COVID-19 vaccine pharmacists will handle has yet to be decided, though from a storage standpoint the Moderna vaccine would be most likely because it doesn't need the same refrigeration as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Martin said people should not be calling their local pharmacies just yet.
"Be patient and don't call the pharmacies straight away because we don't have any special lists or waiting lists or anything along those lines," she said. "And hopefully the government will be doing a very intensive campaign about alerting people when it's their time to go in, and then pharmacies will be ready and will be taking those appointments."
The one-year agreement, which begins March 1, also establishes increases in prescription dispensing fees and influenza vaccine fees.