Vaccine eligibility expanded to 35 as of tomorrow

A nurse draws a dose from a vaccine vial in Prince Albert. Photo courtesy SHA.

Starting Thursday, all adults over the age of 35 will be eligible for a vaccine.

Vaccine appointments can be booked through the Saskatchewan Health Authority phone number or website or through participating pharmacies. Some drive-thru and walk-in clinics are also still open and will have vaccine.

The province said Wednesday that there are 11,200 Moderna doses available and pharmacies will receive a further 15,500 doses of Moderna this week for distribution next week. The SHA also has 6,000 appointments available through its booking system and 8,000 doses available for drive thru and walk-in clinics beginning Thursday and Monday.

Saskatchewan said its reopening plan hinges on vaccine uptake. The roadmap, announced Tuesday, will see some restrictions lifted three weeks after 70 per cent of all residents aged 40 or older have a first dose of vaccine. Further restrictions will be loosened once 70 per cent of the population aged 30 and over have received at least one dose and once all eligible residents aged 16 and up have received one dose.

That could soon change to all residents 12 and up. On Wednesday Health Canada approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in kids aged 12-15. The province said Tuesday that once younger age groups are okayed for vaccination that they will be added to the running count and vaccine uptake metrics.

Saskatchewan reported 9,968 new vaccine doses administered Tuesday, including 487 in the North Central.

While serious outcomes are less likely among younger age groups, officials are encouraging all residents, regardless of age, to get vaccinated, in part to protect themselves and in part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and its more aggressive variants. So far, two kids under the age of 19 have died after contracting COVID-19.

Two more COVID-19 deaths were reported on Wednesday. Both residents were in their 70s. One hailed from the Saskatoon Zone and one from the Regina area.

The deaths were in addition to 196 new cases and 250 more recoveries from the virus. There are currently 2,250 active cases of COVID-19 across Saskatchewan, and the average daily new case rate is 224, or 18.2 per 100,000 population.

Of the new cases reported Wednesday, 12 were in the North Central, which includes Prince Albert. The city had a reported five new cases Wednesday for a current active total of 61.

There are 171 people in the hospital across Saskatchewan with COVID-19, including 39 in the ICU. North Central currently has six COVID-19 patients in the hospital with one in the ICU.

The province reported additional care homes now eligible for relaxed visiting restrictions. Visiting can be relaxed if a care home has at least 90 per cent of residents fully vaccinated and three weeks have passed since the last vaccination.

At these care homes, there is no limit to the number of people who can visit in groups of two at a time. Also, residents who go out to the community do not have to self-isolate upon their return.

Mont St. Joseph Home is the only Prince Albert facility on the list of places where visitor restrictions have been relaxed.