The province announced changes to the vaccine delivery plan on Monday.
The province announced that it will begin to target first responders through mobile vaccination units once current priority populations are complete. Currently, mobile vaccination units are targeting select congregate living settings including group home and shelter staff and residents.
Once vaccinations in these settings are complete, mobile vaccination units will target first responders including police officers, fire fighters and public health inspectors and will be dispatched to central workplace settings.
Targeted vaccination of first responders with mobile vaccination units is anticipated to commence within two weeks upon the completion of congregate living setting vaccinations.
“As we continue to make great progress in our vaccine delivery, we are able to utilize our mobile vaccination unit capacity to target those first responders that are assisting in enforcement of our public health orders,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said in a release.
“These mobile units will be dispatched to central workplaces of these first responders and will operate without compromising our mass vaccination capacity that exists in our age-based vaccine delivery.”
Public health routinely relies on first responders to assist in the enforcement of public health orders that are in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. Similar to the vaccination of vaccine delivery teams, vaccinating first responders involved with enforcing COVID-19 orders will reduce the risk of transmission to personnel that support the overall COVID-19 response. Paramedics, commonly considered first responders, were prioritized for vaccination in Phase 1 of the vaccine delivery plan.
To kick-start the vaccination of first responders in Regina where variants of concern are a predominant concern, vaccination of police officers in Regina began this weekend at the drive-thru site at Evraz Place. This was done during a time of low wait times on Saturday evening and into Sunday.
Remaining healthcare workers to be allocated unused Phase 1 doses
As part of the Phase 1 prioritization framework, 40,500 health care workers were prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine. Of those 40,500 priority vaccinations, first-dose uptake amongst priority health care workers has been 27,348 (67 per cent). Remaining frontline health care workers not included in Phase 1 prioritization will be allocated the remaining 13,152 first-doses.
All physicians are being included in priority sequencing as they may be called on to assist in clinical care areas and surge capacity needs. Eligible SHA healthcare workers and physicians will receive notice and a letter of eligibility directing them to book a vaccination appointment by telephone. The notification will come from either the College of Physicians and Surgeons for doctors or the SHA for other healthcare staff. The SHA frontline healthcare staff includes outpatient and community services staff, nurses, pharmacists, therapy staff, mental health professionals, social workers, housekeeping, dietary and ward support staff.
Remaining health care workers not included in the Phase 1 prioritization will be able to book their COVID-19 vaccination by phone only upon receipt of a letter of eligibility by calling 1-833-SASKVAX.
Pharmacies to prioritize staff working in pharmacy and grocery facilities
Saskatchewan’s pharmacists are set to begin participating in delivering vaccines on the week ofApril 26, or earlier depending on vaccine supply. In addition to offering increased access to the general public in pharmacies through the age-based sequence, pharmacists will be offering vaccines to pharmacy and grocery staff working in the facility where vaccines are offered.
“As pharmacies begin delivering the COVID-19 vaccine, we know there will be an increased risk of exposure to those frontline staff working in those facilities,” Merriman said.
“By making the COVID-19 vaccine available to staff working in the pharmacy or attached grocery spaces through the pharmacists delivering the vaccine, these workers will be protected.”
Pharmacies will require proof of employment in the facility where the vaccine is being delivered. Any staff working in a facility where vaccine delivery is occurring will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in that facility.