Thousands of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 doses have arrived this week in the province.
On Thursday afternoon, the provincial government shared that 31,590 Pfizer doses have now arrived and will be distributed in the North West, North Central, Saskatoon, Central East and Regina zones. Some of these doses will also be allocated to select participating pharmacies as part of the Pharmacy Vaccination Pilot Project. 18,800 doses of Moderna are also expected.
The doses have shown up just in time as vaccination eligibility expands Friday to residents 40 and over, except for residents 30 and over in the Northern Saskatchewan Administration District. Eligibility will also include some frontline workers of all ages such as educational staff working with students, firefighters and police officers.
Health Minister Paul Merriman said on Thursday in the Saskatchewan Legislative Building that there will be new ways for people to access a vaccine starting Friday.
“We obviously have the SHA appointment system, we’re looking at potentially opening some new drive-thru sites next week in Regina and Saskatoon,” Merriman stated.
Merriman said this means the plan is to reopen the drive-thru in Regina. “We have vaccines allocated for that and we are looking to see if we can open it a couple days next week in Regina and Saskatoon.”
Eligible residents will be able to access all immunization clinics including booked appointments, drive-thru and walk-in clinics, pharmacies and mobile clinics.
If people cannot find an appointment close to them, Merriman encourages residents to find one in a town near them so appointments get filled up.
Continued LTC restrictions a ‘difficult decision’
While some Sask. communities are allowed to ease visitor restrictions at certain long-term and personal care homes, others will not be permitted for the time being.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority on Wednesday evening announced care homes in Regina, Emerald Park, Lumsden and Cupar will restrict visitations based on the increased risk of COVID-19 in the area.
The decision was announced after the Provincial Ombudsman’s 2020 annual report released Thursday which indicates their office received 51 complaints about long-term care. Some of the complaints were from people who felt applied measures were too strict or they wanted greater access to family members in care.
Seniors Minister Everett Hindley said these were difficult decisions to make.
“There’s a reason why we had to do this, and based on recommendations from Dr. Shahab and his team, we wanted to make sure we were doing everything we possibly could to protect residents of long-term care,” explained the minister.
Care homes not under the visitation restriction will be allowed visitors if 90 per cent of residents in the facility have been fully vaccinated, three weeks after second doses are completed.
“Statistics show the older you are, the more likely you are to have a negative outcome as a result of COVID,” added Hindley.
The SHA notes that medical health officers in Regina have discretion to maintain current restrictions, even if the vaccination thresholds are met in these facilities.