Coronavirus vaccine won’t be mandatory, Saskatchewan health minister says

Speaking in the rotunda of the legislative building Tuesday, Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman says the coronavirus vaccine won't be mandatory. File / Pool Camera

Saskatchewan’s health minister says the coronavirus vaccine won’t be mandatory.

“We would hope people would choose this because it helps us get rid of the virus quicker, but that’s their choice on whether they want to get vaccinated or not,” Paul Merriman, who holds the portfolio, said Tuesday in the rotunda of the province’s legislative building.

A recent poll by the Angus Reid Institute suggests 31 per cent of Saskatchewan residents would get the vaccine as soon as it’s available to them, while 36 per cent would wait a bit and then get it.

Twenty-five percent said they would not get it.

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The health minister remains optimistic: “I think they’re going to be able to step up and want to get this vaccine, not just for themselves, but to protect their loved ones.”

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Merriman, who previously noted the province is going to receive 180,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine(s) in the first quarter of the new year, said his office is working out distribution logistics — including who will be first in line to receive it.

Health-care workers on the front lines of the response, seniors and those in care homes will be prioritized, the health minister said.

“We want to get it as soon as possible,” Merriman said.

“When the federal government does deliver that, we will be ready.”

Merriman said he does not foresee restrictions in Saskatchewan for those who choose not to have the vaccine, but noted it could impact their ability to travel, depending on what other jurisdictions decide.

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