Pfizer vaccine may run out in Saskatchewan before next allocation from feds

Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone arrives to a COVID-19 media update at the Legislative Building in Regina on Wednesday Dec. 9, 2020. Michael Bell / The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan authorities say the province may run out of the Pfizer vaccine before the next allocation from the federal government due to its increased pace of delivery expected to take place in the coming days.

On Thursday, the province shared an update on its vaccine program and what to expect in months to come.

Its focus remains on vaccinating residents and staff at long-term and personal care homes and prioritized health-care workers, people 70 years of age and older along with those 50 years of age or older living in remote and northern parts of the province – about 190,000 people in total.

Read more: New high for Saskatchewan coronavirus patients, all vaccine clinics for seniors full

The province said it has confirmed supply of the Pfizer vaccine from the federal government for the next couple of months, but only enough to vaccinate 50 per cent of the high-priority population in Saskatchewan.

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“We’re not short, but based on what we know, we have a confirm supply to the end of March and when you factor in that the vulnerable require a second dose…that’s where that number being short is coming from,” said Scott Livingstone, Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) CEO.

“As we learn more in the weeks to come as to what’s coming in April, May and June that will change.”

With a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, the province continues its push to vaccinate as many people as possible.

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The province announced 312 new cases on Thursday, bringing the overall cases to 19,329 since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Nearly 11,985 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Saskatchewan as of Thursday.

Read more: Saskatchewan epidemiologist calls for second COVID-19 shutdown

Livingstone said it’s important for people to stay patient through Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout plan.

“Supplies are limited so we need patience for those not among high-priority population. Serving our most vulnerable population will save lives,” Livingstone said.

“This only marks the beginning of the end and not the end itself.”

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Coronavirus: Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO asks for ‘patience’ amid Phase 1 vaccine rollout – Jan 14, 2021

The province is focused on working faster, smarter and safer, but is encountering a number of key challenges.

It says delivering the vaccine to remote locations is slowing down the pace of delivery and that weather is also slowing down the process.

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

Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, says the most important thing for people to do who are not high-priority for the vaccine is to continue to follow health guidelines.

“It’s not like we’re not all trying hard, but I think we just need to try a little bit harder, as we did in December,” Shahab said.

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“[We need to] be very thoughtful about where we go, what we do. Are we using all the precautions at our disposal to minimize transmission?”

Saskatchewan has the highest rate of active COVID-19 cases in the country. As of Thursday, there were 3,859 active cases in the province.

Shahab said if that continues to stay consistent he will consider asking the Ministry of Health to add further restrictions.