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Northeast Saskatchewan communities distribute more than 700 COVID-19 vaccines over weekend

Workers unload vaccines at the La Ronge airport. Courtesy Colin Ratushniak

The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have successfully been distributed in Saskatchewan’s Northeast, according to leaders.

This past weekend, 712 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered in La Ronge, Air Ronge and among the Lac La Ronge Indian Band according to La Ronge Mayor Colin Ratushniak.

Read more: Limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine made available to seniors in select areas: SHA

The northeast wasn’t originally part of the initial rollout in the north, he said, and leaders in those communities had to push the province to be included.

“(That) was very concerning, considering our numbers were about 10 times the amount to the far northwest and far north central,” Ratushniak said.

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“Our local health officials were not involved in those conversations and consulted (around vaccine distribution).”

Read more: Coronavirus: Saskatchewan has highest rate of active COVID-19 cases in Canada

Now, Ratushniak said, he’s glad his community was included in the rollout. Along with his role as mayor, he also works as a medevac pilot.

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He said he helped fly some vaccines to deliver to other communities, and got it himself.

“Seeing that those community members received those dosages, it’s a huge sigh of relief,” he said.

“It just gives them a little bit more appreciation that we can get back to normal hopefully eventually.”

Ratushniak said more vaccines are expected to be delivered to his community by the end of this week or early next. He’s encouraging everyone who can to get it.

Read more: When is it my turn? A coast-to-coast look at COVID-19 vaccine rollout

“At this point I have zero tolerance for anyone who starts questioning about getting it,” he said.

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“I don’t want to live in this … ‘new normal’ because it isn’t normal to me and I just really want to advocate for that.”

Ratushniak said even with the vaccine, it’s important people in his community continue to follow public health guidelines.

According to the Saskatchewan Health Authority, 10,400 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered across the province.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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