Advertisement

COVID-19 vaccine here, but Moderna shot and health guidelines still needed: SHA

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 vaccine here, but Moderna shot and health guidelines still needed: SHA' COVID-19 vaccine here, but Moderna shot and health guidelines still needed: SHA
WATCH: The first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were given in Saskatchewan on Tuesday, but health officials, including those who got the first shots, are warning people not to celebrate just yet – Dec 17, 2020

Although the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have arrived, the province is a long way from a return to normal.

Saskatchewan’s ICUs are full or close to it, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is still figuring out how to best vaccinate the province and, a SHA doctor said, long-term care home residents will likely need to wait for the Moderna vaccine to be approved.

Speaking during a virtual press conference on Wednesday, Dr. Tania Diener, an SHA medical health officer in Regina, stressed that Saskatchewan residents should still follow public health guidelines because we’re still in the midst of a pandemic.

“This is the time for all of us to come together and fight this virus with the other tools that we have at the moment,” she said.

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

Story continues below advertisement

Dr. Jeffrey Betcher, the first person in Saskatchewan to be vaccinated and department lead of critical care in Regina, warned that intensive care units in Saskatoon “have been well over capacity” to the point where referrals from northern treatment centres are being referred to Regina, which is also full.

“We are overflowed as well, in our ICU. I know that Prince Albert ICU is very full,” he said, adding other care units in the province are close to being full.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan ICUs, testing capacity see worrying strain: unions' Saskatchewan ICUs, testing capacity see worrying strain: unions
Saskatchewan ICUs, testing capacity see worrying strain: unions – Nov 28, 2020

Diener also stressed the immunization of 1,950 health-care workers, which began Tuesday, is a pilot project designed to test the logistics and distribution of shipping doses across Saskatchewan.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

She said it is the “most complex thing we’ve ever dealt with, in terms of vaccine distribution,” but added Regina SHA personnel have already started sharing what they’ve learned with the rest of the province.

Story continues below advertisement

She said the Health Authority is planning to vaccinate an additional 1,950 health-care workers and that she’s expecting additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine to arrive every week.

She also cautioned that SHA leadership has no date in mind for the pilot project to finish and said vaccination of the general population will only likely start in March.

Read more: Canada could get multiple coronavirus vaccines. Experts say there are unique challenges

She warned the vaccination of people in long-term care homes may have to wait until the Moderna vaccine is approved, because it’s easier to transport.

The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, the only one Health Canada has approved so far, must be kept at a temperature of -80 C.

Diener said she didn’t know when the federal government would approve the Moderna vaccine but believed it would be soon.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Canada taking steps to ensure ‘safe and efficient’ distribution of Moderna vaccine once approved' Coronavirus: Canada taking steps to ensure ‘safe and efficient’ distribution of Moderna vaccine once approved
Coronavirus: Canada taking steps to ensure ‘safe and efficient’ distribution of Moderna vaccine once approved – Dec 16, 2020
“We’re here between a rock and a hard place. We have to rely on the [vaccine] companies as well as Health Canada for approval, but this is basically what we’re hoping for,” she said.
Story continues below advertisement

When asked about Saskatchewan residents’ apparent hesitancy to get the shot, Diener said it was important to stress the vaccine is safe and effective.

“No safety protocols were bypassed [during research and production], all the adequate testing, in terms of trials going through different phases, reaching certain endpoints, those were achieved.”

Sponsored content