Smooth vaccine rollouts easing COVID-19 worries in Île-à-la-Crosse

·2 min read

The Government of Saskatchewan is starting to roll out the COVID-19 vaccines with plans to administer 202,052 doses in phase one of their vaccine plans.

Priority populations are currently part of this phase one plan, including healthcare workers, long-term care residents, and vulnerable populations.

This includes Saskatchewan’s northern communities with orders from the federal government putting a vaccine priority on indigenous adults in remote areas, saying their access to health care is limited in remote and isolated areas and numbers of positive cases have been disproportionate because of it.

Mayor Duane Favel is happy to report that the administration of the vaccine is going smoothly in his northern community of Île-à-la-Crosse.

There is some stress and anxiety regarding the safety of the vaccine but Favel said that the challenge has been the spreading of misinformation on social media, which everyone has been impacted by this in some way.

“It is a bit of a challenge for the health region, the northern medical officer, and the communities to communicate the safety of the vaccine itself, and to feel secure and moving forward and receiving it.”

As of Jan. 7, five cases were active in the community with recoveries expected the following week, according to Favel. The Far North West region has 215 as of Jan. 11 with the Île-à-la-Crosse subregion of Far North West 1 having 88 active cases of Jan. 10.

Île-à-la-Crosse has a strong emergency operations team in place who are meeting once a week to discuss everything from PPE to isolation spaces to what additional supports are needed for community members, Favel said. The Saskatchewan Health Authority is also in on those meetings to ensure there is a well-rounded approach to what the community is doing and that there are no gaps in fighting the virus. This also means that if the community as a whole needs any broader forms of financial or resource supports, that can be communicated quite efficiently, he said.

According to the provincial vaccine plan, there are 8,900 residents over 50 living in remote and Northern Saskatchewan communities that will be part of the first phase of vaccine rollout, and another 30,584 long-term and personal care home residents and 10,000-15,000 health care workers across the province that will be part of “targeted immunization.”

As of Jan. 10, nearly 7,000 vaccines have been administered in Saskatchewan of the 17,575 received by the province, according to the COVID-19 Tracker Canada website developed by Noah Little. The vaccine is delivered in a two injections process with the second injection administered after a 21-28 day period.

Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist