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Long lineups as drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination site opens in Saskatoon

Click to play video: 'Long lineups as drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination site opens in Saskatoon' Long lineups as drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination site opens in Saskatoon
WATCH: Hundreds of vehicles were lined up prior to the COVID-19 vaccination drive-thru clinic opening in Saskatoon – Apr 5, 2021

The drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination in Saskatoon opened Monday morning at Prairieland Park.

Hundreds of vehicles were lined up prior to the clinic opening, with the line stretching from the Prairieland Park entrance on St. Henry to Optimist Hill.

Two hours after the clinic opened, Saskatoon police said it was at full capacity and no one else would be let in until Tuesday.

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The Saskatchewan Health Authority said everyone who was in line Monday before the closure was announced will receive their vaccination the same day.

Only people aged 55 and older on their date of immunization are eligible to receive the vaccine and the site is administering the AstraZeneca vaccine on a first-come, first-served basis.

The clinic opened at 8:30 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. Monday.

Starting Tuesday, the clinic’s hours run from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and will operate daily until the vaccine supply runs out.

Read more: More COVID-19 vaccination sites opening across Saskatchewan for 55+

Daniel Shaan arrived but before opening. He got his shot nearly five hours later.

“We knew it would be a long wait, so we were kind of prepared for it,” Shaan said while his driving companion curled up with a blanket in the driver’s seat.

For many Global News spoke with, the wait was unexpected; like for Mark Larocque, who spent hours standing in line after biking to the site.

“I wasn’t expecting the lineup would be this long, but it’s worth the wait,” he said.

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The SHA announced a number of drive-thru sites last week after roughly 55,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses were scheduled to be delivered earlier than expected.

Read more: COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expanded to 58+ in Saskatchewan effective Friday

More than 45,000 doses were delivered on Thursday, with the remainder scheduled to arrive by April 7.

People who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 90 days and individuals who received any other vaccine in the last 14 days are not eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the SHA said.

Saskatoon joins a growing number of communities bringing in drive-thrus. Read a full list here.

Some sites appear not to be as busy as Saskatoon; on Monday, staff at North Battleford’s site told Global News it was relatively quiet since opening over the weekend.

Read more: Saskatchewan reports 47 in ICU, 219 new COVID-19 infections

Meanwhile, Prince Albert’s drive-thru is livelier since opening Saturday, according to mayor Greg Dionne. He said how busy it is depends on the time of day.

“The earlier you go the longer the wait,” he explained.

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“This morning it wasn’t open until 9, well they were lining up at 7 so of course that causes longer delays but some people I talked to waited two hours, but then people that went later in the day waited 15 to 20 minutes.”

Dionne is encouraging anyone who is eligible for the vaccine to get it.

Global News reached out to the SHA about wait times at drive-thru clinics, and whether the site in Saskatoon will turn people away in the coming days. No one responded by deadline.

– With files from Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi

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