Saskatchewan waiting to hear about future shipments of COVID-19 vaccines

Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman said he's had conversations with the federal government about the province's vaccine shortages.

As Canada prepares to receive 1.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines this week, it remains unclear how many will be allocated to Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan’s Health Minister Paul Merriman said he’s had conversations with the federal government regarding the province’s vaccine supply challenges.

He added a number of residents have had to change appointments this month due to the shortages.

Read more: COVID-19: Saskatchewan’s total infections exceed 40K with deaths at 476

“I had a call with the federal government this morning, and I made Minister Hajdu very aware that we’ve cancelled and rescheduled over 31,000 appointments in April because of missed shipments,” said Merriman.

Booking for future appointments will be dependent on vaccine delivery confirmation.

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According to Merriman, the province is still waiting to hear about May shipments for the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines.

Read more: Canada to get 1.9M COVID-19 vaccines this week, including 1st Johnson & Johnson shots 

“We need to have that information so we can start booking appointments,” he said. “We’re hopeful that we’ll get maybe 30 to 40 thousand Moderna a week, which then we can start moving things up, but it’s all based on vaccine supply.”

Despite challenges, the province plans to expand vaccine eligibility to include those 40 and over later this week.

Some additional front-line workers will also be eligible, including teachers across the province.

Read more: COVID-19 outbreaks in Saskatchewan

“If the age category hasn’t picked them up already, then they’ll be able to book in their time, so it won’t be after the fact,” said Merriman.

Saskatchewan is also sending around 15,000 doses to some pharmacies this week as part of a pilot project.

Between pharmacies and the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Merriman estimates the province could have a capacity of administering 20,000 a day if supplies were to allow it.

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Read more: List of COVID-19 school exposures and outbreaks in Saskatchewan

“We haven’t been doing anywhere close to that,” he said. “Last week we received 31,000 for the week, so we’re not even getting close to our capacity.”

As of Monday, Saskatchewan reported the total number of vaccines administered in the province is 403,384.

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