1st doses of COVID-19 vaccine in Saskatchewan given to health-care workers

Click to play video: '1st doses of COVID-19 vaccine in Saskatchewan given to health-care workers' 1st doses of COVID-19 vaccine in Saskatchewan given to health-care workers
WATCH: Front-line health care workers rolled up their sleeves at Regina General Hospital to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in Saskatchewan – Dec 16, 2020

The first health-care workers in Saskatchewan received the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday after the first doses arrived in the province earlier in the day.

The first administration of the vaccine went to the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s department lead of critical care in Regina and area, Dr. Jeffrey Betcher, around 6 p.m.

Read more: Canada will receive 168K Moderna coronavirus vaccine doses this month, pending approval

“This is one step closer to seeing this through to the end. I feel so good about this,” Betcher said.

“If you’re unsure about having the vaccine, I think it’s really important that you reconsider that and consider having it done.

“It protects not only yourself, but also those around you, your family, your friends. For those who are vulnerable, I think of this as just another layer of protection that not only I have, but the staff around me have and those that I’m looking after have as I provide care for them.”

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Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Two Saskatchewan health-care workers receive province’s first COVID-19 vaccines' Coronavirus: Two Saskatchewan health-care workers receive province’s first COVID-19 vaccines
Coronavirus: Two Saskatchewan health-care workers receive province’s first COVID-19 vaccines – Dec 15, 2020

Emergency room nurse Leah Sawatsky was the second person in Saskatchewan to receive a dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

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“I’m really glad that I’m able to have the opportunity to get the immunization to keep myself safe, my friends and my family and our patients safe as well,” Sawatsky said.

“I think it’s really cool. I’m really grateful for the opportunity … it’s really important if you’re not sure to get it for yourself, get it for the safety of others. We’re seeing people whose quality of life is getting taken away every day by COVID. It doesn’t discriminate age. So trust the science. It’s good for us and get the vaccine.”

SHA immunization lead and medical health officer, Dr. Tania Diener, said the administration occurred  less than five hours since the vaccine arrived in the province.

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“Today we really see the light at the end of the tunnel but the fight is not over. We still need to remain vigilant because we want to continue to save lives in Saskatchewan by applying all COVID precautions.

“We need to remember where exactly we are currently in the pandemic and we need to remember the losses we have had in this province, our health-care workers have sacrificed so much during the pandemic, so it is immensely gratifying today to have Dr. Betcher and Leah here to kick off our vaccine rollout.”

Health-care workers in intensive care units, emergency departments and COVID-19 units at Regina General and Pasqua hospitals, and staff at testing and assessment centres, will be the first to receive the vaccine as part of the pilot program.

Click to play video: 'First Canadians receive Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine' First Canadians receive Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine
First Canadians receive Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine – Dec 14, 2020

One of the first to get the vaccine is Dr. Jeffrey Betcher.

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“I have seen the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the patients I have cared for in the intensive care unit, as well as its effects on their families,” said Betcher, a critical care physician.

“Accepting the vaccine is part of my responsibility as a physician.  It will protect me, my patients, my colleagues, friends and family.”

Those in the pilot program will receive their second dose 21 days later.

Read more: Saskatchewan to receive 1,950 initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine

Phase 1 of the province’s vaccine delivery plan focuses on immunizing priority populations who are at a higher risk of exposure to the virus and those more at risk of serious illness.

It will be rolled out later this month, health officials said, adding that the Ministry of Health will work with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Athabasca Health Authority and First Nations jurisdictions to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to priority populations.

Phase 2 of the program is expected to start in April.

While it will continue with the immunization of at-risk members of the population, the second phase will also provide province-wide access to the vaccine to the general population.

Health officials reported 194 new cases on Tuesday, with the overall total for the province growing to 12,432 since the first case was reported in March.

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In total, there have been 98 COVID-19-related deaths in Saskatchewan.

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