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91% of Saskatchewan long-term care residents receive first COVID-19 vaccine dose

Click to play video: '91% of Saskatchewan long-term care residents receive first COVID-19 vaccine dose' 91% of Saskatchewan long-term care residents receive first COVID-19 vaccine dose
WATCH: Saskatchewan has hit a major milestone in giving care home residents their first shots of the COVID-19 vaccine. – Mar 3, 2021

All long-term care homes in Saskatchewan have received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Health officials said 91 per cent of residents have received at least one dose, with 53 per cent having received both doses.

“Ensuring seniors living in long-term and personal care homes are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is a priority for the government of Saskatchewan,” Everett Hindley, Saskatchewan’s minister of seniors and rural and remote health, said Tuesday in a statement.

“We look forward to the day when all Saskatchewan’s seniors are fully vaccinated against the threat of COVID-19.”

Read more: Saskatchewan government looking to integrate AstraZeneca into province’s vaccination plan

In the year since the pandemic began, more than 40 outbreaks have been declared at long-term and personal care homes in the province, with over 100 deaths.

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The deadliest outbreak was at Extendicare Parkside in Regina with over 40 deaths reported.

Officials said nine per cent of long-term care home residents were not immunized. Reasons for not immunizing those residents include their availability at the time of vaccination, a refusal to take the vaccine or a change in health circumstance.

The province said at personal care homes, 90 per cent have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 43 per cent receiving both doses.

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Health officials said the achievement happened in less than two months from when the first resident at a long-term care home received their dose.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Saskatchewan premier says 53% of long-term care residents “fully vaccinated”' Coronavirus: Saskatchewan premier says 53% of long-term care residents “fully vaccinated”
Coronavirus: Saskatchewan premier says 53% of long-term care residents “fully vaccinated” – Mar 2, 2021

Premier Scott Moe said the vaccines arriving in the province are not staying in the freezers for very long.

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“Saskatchewan is outpacing every other province in Canada when it comes to getting those doses that we receive from the federal government into Saskatchewan people’s arms,” Moe said.

“We have now administered just over 80,000 shots. That is over 100 per cent of the doses we have received.”

Read more: Feds need plan to vaccinate urban Indigenous people, friendship centres say

Moe said Saskatchewan will now receive 112,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine in March, along with roughly 15,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“Things are picking up as we move through the next month,” he said.

“Eligible residents over 70 years of age will soon be able to call in or book an appointment online.”

Moe said the appointment system is expected to be launched next week.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan’s top doctor on province moving to 4-month period between shots' Saskatchewan’s top doctor on province moving to 4-month period between shots
Saskatchewan’s top doctor on province moving to 4-month period between shots – Mar 2, 2021

Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said the province is looking at extending the period between the first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to four months.

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“Now that the (United Kingdom) and Quebec, other provinces are entering that three- to four-month gap between first and second doses, they have demonstrated that first dose maintains its effectiveness and actually the effectiveness increases over time. So now, the evidence is suggesting that it is safe to delay the second dose for up to four months,” Shahab said.

“We are working very closely with our partners in other provinces and with our federal partners and looking forward to national recommendations, which we think should support delaying the second dose to four months and what that will do is that we really accelerate our first-dose program … potentially getting a first dose (to most of the population) by June.”

“We’ll be able to make a decision likely by the end of this week on that.”

-With files from Thomas Piller

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