Province transitioning vaccine rollout to outreach as of August 8

The Saskatchewan Legislature. -- Herald File Photo

The Saskatchewan Health Authority plans to shift their vaccination strategy awag from mass vaccinations and on to focused outreach, the organization announced on Monday.

With 74 per cent of eligible Saskatchewan residents having received their first dose, and 62 per cent fully vaccinated, the SHA said it was time to target specific demographics that were undervaccinated or unvaccinated.

As part of the strategy, the SHA will discontinue drive-thru and appointment bookings through their online system and 1-833-SASKVAX phone number on Aug. 8. Participating Saskatchewan pharmacies will continue to provide COVID-19 vaccinations by appointment.

The SHA plans to shift to walk-in clinics in public venues throughout the province, including planned summer events, post-secondary campuses, retail locations including grocery stores, pow wows, provincial parks and recreations areas, community centres and more.

“Achieving the highest possible vaccination rate is the best way to prevent COVID-19 transmission,” Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman said in a release.

“This focused outreach is to further drive first and second dose uptake, meeting residents where they live, work and play and support individuals in their decision to make our province as safe as possible.”

“The provincial vaccination program will not stop,” Merriman added.

“But all residents are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the readily available and convenient clinic options available now through August 8.  First or second dose, now is the time to stick it to COVID.”

The SHA urged Saskatchewan residents to take the opportunity to get vaccinated before they head out on summer holidays with their family and friends. Before leaving, residents are encouraged to check out local clinics where they are vacationing in Saskatchewan. 

“The Saskatchewan Health Authority continues to encourage all residents to be immunized with both doses as soon as they are eligible,” Saskatchewan Health Authority, Emergency Operation Centre Vaccine Chief Sheila Anderson said.

“As much progress as we’ve made toward immunizing the province we want to remind people that COVID-19 is still here and we will see cases throughout the summer, especially for unvaccinated individuals.”

Starting Monday the daily SHA clinic locations will be promoted in the daily COVID-19 case news release.

The province said that Saskatchewan now has vaccine supplies to fully immunize 85 per cent of our population. 

Supply will not be a limiting factor on the province achieving their vaccination goals. Currently, there are 128,000 doses of Pfizer available through SHA and pharmacies, available for residents 12-17 and those seeking to complete their vaccine series with a matched second dose, if desired. 

It is safe to receive any mRNA vaccine as a second dose and all residents require both doses of the approved two-dose vaccines in order to achieve optimum protection, particularly against the Delta variant, which is circulating in Saskatchewan now.