Sask. reaches 40% of adults with first dose, vaccine supply will increase next week
Saskatchewan’s health minister said the recent lull in vaccinations due to lack of supplies will soon be corrected by an influx of vaccines expected to arrive in the province early next week.
On Wednesday, Paul Merriman said the province would receive 63,000 doses of Pfizer next week, double his weekly allocation. He said he expected to also receive more vaccines from Moderna and a small amount of the recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“The good news is that more vaccines are on the horizon and we want to get people in as quickly as possible.”
From April 8 to 11, the province administered an average of 11,964 doses per day.
However, from April 25 to April 28, that number had fallen to an average of 5,867 doses per day.
The small amount of vaccine caused problems with people in Regina and Saskatoon finding available appointments.
Some have resorted to booking in the closest available community, which Merriman says works just fine.
“Keep calling and try to go online. Maybe there isn’t one in your immediate area, maybe there’s a clinic across town or in half an hour where you can get by car. “
Having to get in the car for a vaccination road trip can be short lived.
“The vaccine supply increases in May. The federal government tells us more vaccines are coming.”
This planned increase in vaccines could allow Regina’s drive-thru clinic to reopen next week. The Saskatchewan Health Authority had targeted May 2 as a possible reopening date, but the Pfizer shipment will not arrive until Tuesday May 4.
Merriman said the government wanted to reopen drive-thru Regina “as soon as possible.”
Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone said on Tuesday that patients in the intensive care unit in Regina were younger and sicker than in the past.
He said some of them are too young to receive a vaccine or have become eligible at age while in care.
Dr Saqib Shahab said too many people able to get vaccinated have not made an appointment or made an appointment at a walk-in clinic or while driving.
“I would challenge all of us to go for a higher vaccination rate because it is absolutely essential.”
As of Wednesday, according to government data, 40% of adults in the province had been vaccinated.
As of Tuesday, the North-West, North-East, Center-East, Center-West and Center-South regions had more than 40% of adults vaccinated with a first dose.
Saskatoon and the three regions of the Far North were at 35% or less.
Saskatchewan will move on to make people 40 and over eligible for vaccination on Friday.
Merriman said on Wednesday that some people hospitalized had been given the option of receiving a first dose of the vaccine and had not.
“We have seen so many people who do not choose to be vaccinated, who have serious results and if they choose to be vaccinated, the serious result is reduced to almost zero.”
Merriman encouraged those eligible who remain uncertain or have not made an appointment to do so.
“What the vaccine does, it prevents severe outcomes … Severe outcomes are virtually nil once you are fully vaccinated.”
Pharmacies could take over the appointment system, says Merriman
Saskatchewan launched a pilot program this week that allows 63 pharmacies in 14 communities to administer vaccines. The majority of pharmacies are located in the Regina area.
Merriman said the hope is that pharmacies will eventually play a much bigger role in distributing vaccines to the public.
He said they are capable of administering “tens of thousands” of shots per day once operational.
“Pharmacies are going to consider taking over appointment scheduling in the future. It won’t happen overnight and we will be giving the public a warning.”
Merriman said the transition would allow the health authority to reallocate resources and give tired staff a break.
“We’re just going to cut it down so pharmacies can grow.”
He said the government would “balance” the options offered by the SHA, between a drive-thru delivery system and pharmacies.
“I would say it’s fair to say that pharmacies will be heavily involved in second doses.”