REGINA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadians can expect a “one-dose summer" as more COVID-19 vaccines are delivered, but Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says people in his province can expect better than that.
"The fact of the matter is, we’re not going to have a Trudeau summer here in Saskatchewan," Moe told a news conference Tuesday.
“We’re going to have a one-dose spring and quite likely a two-dose summer, as we are planning to have second doses available to everyone in the province by sometime in the middle of July.”
About 40 per cent of Canadians are vaccinated with at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Saskatchewan is running ahead of national numbers, with about 50 per cent of adults — and more than 70 per cent of those aged 40 and over — having already received their first dose.
That 70 per cent marker is one of the key thresholds in the first step of Saskatchewan's reopening plan, which Moe said he expects will come into effect on May 30. That will be three weeks after 70 per cent of adults over 40 have had a first dose, and the province expects all Saskatchewan adults will be eligible to be vaccinated by that date as well.
Moe said this gradual reopening plan meets the province’s public health and economic needs, even if the initial vaccination threshold is lower than the federal government’s recommendation to vaccinate 75 per cent of adults before loosening restrictions.
“I think it’s important for us to recognize — and important for the prime minister to recognize — that we’re not going to just turn a switch and the economy comes on when we hit 75 per cent or some magic number,” said Moe.
“You need to gradually reopen the economy, bring people back into their communities and allow people time to reintegrate back into what life used to be like.”
The province is expecting to start administering second doses later this month.
There were 186 new infections reported Tuesday, and four more deaths due to the virus. The province said there were 2,064 active cases and 162 people in the hospital, with 38 in intensive care.
After hundreds of demonstrators attended protests over COVID-19 restrictions in Regina and Saskatoon over the weekend, Moe reminded those who are frustrated that vaccines — not protests — are the best way to get those measures lifted.
“The absolute, bar-none, best way to have the public health measures removed is to make your appointment, go receive your first vaccine and as soon as you’re eligible … get your second shot,” he said.
With "a very, very few" number of Oxford-AstraZeneca shots left in the province, Moe said health officials are also tweaking some of their vaccine rollout plans.
Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone said the province is no longer using AstraZeneca vaccines for first doses due to a lack of supply.
“We simply don’t have enough of the vaccine in the province,” he said.
Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said he is following ongoing studies about the efficacy of mixing and matching vaccines.
“There is good information emerging — and we will be confirming the same over the next two weeks — that Pfizer especially as a second dose is perfectly safe and effective if your first dose was AstraZeneca,” he said.
“And if we have AstraZeneca at that time, it can be offered as well. (But) either vaccine is fine and, likely, based on supply, Pfizer would be the second dose."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2021.
— By Julia Peterson in Saskatoon
The Canadian Press