Saskatchewan says COVID-19 vaccination pace to slow with no deliveries next week

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REGINA — Saskatchewan says the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations will start to slow in the province as it marked the deadliest day yet of the pandemic.

Health officials said Thursday that 13 more residents have died, nine of whom were 80 and older, for a total of 239 deaths.

"Reporting the highest number of deaths in a single day is a somber reminder of the need to reduce the spread of this deadly virus by following all public-health orders and guidelines," Premier Scott Moe said on Twitter.

Government data on Dec. 22 shows the province had recorded 125 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Thursday's total represented a 91 per cent increase in the last 30 days. Saskatchewan has a population of about 1.2 million.

The Ministry of Health said more than 29,000 shots — 91 per cent of the vaccine doses received to date — have gone into the arms of critical health-care workers, long-term care staff and vulnerable seniors.

But the ministry said the vaccine will run short with supplier Pfizer-BioNTech saying no new deliveries will be made to Canada next week.

The province said the latest batch of 2,925 shots from Pfizer-BioNTech arrived on Tuesday and went to priority groups in and around Battleford, Lloydminster, Regina and Fort Qu’Appelle

A ministry spokeswoman said the province is still figuring out how it's going to adjust its vaccine rollout in light of the supply interruption.

Moe stated this week that he believes universal compliance with the current public-health measures can tamp down the spread of the virus, which is hitting the province harder in the second wave than it did last spring. He tweeted Thursday that Saskatchewan's caseload was on its way down.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Health reported 227 new infections in the province and 197 people in hospital, with 31 of them in intensive care. The seven-day average of new daily cases sits at 286.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press