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Saskatchewan expands vaccine age eligibility to 40, but not without challenges

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan expands vaccine age eligibility to 40, but not without challenges' Saskatchewan expands vaccine age eligibility to 40, but not without challenges
WATCH: COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expanded on April 30 to include those 40 and older, along with several different frontline workers, despite their age. However, it wasn't a smooth rollout. Taz Dhaliwal explains why. – Apr 30, 2021

Friday marks the first day people aged 40 are eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccine, but some Saskatchewan residents are having trouble booking appointments.

North Battleford, Prince Albert and Lloydminster are the only cities where drive-thru and walk-in clinics are open. Meaning those looking for their immunization are turning to book online or by telephone, which is becoming hard to do due to high demand.

Carla Harris, a Regina resident, woke up feeling excited Friday from being eligible.  However, that excitement soon turned into frustration once she realized she’d have to wait a while to receive her first jab.

Read more: Age eligibility expands at Regina drive-thru vaccine clinic

“I feel that our government is not accurately representing what is available when they’re making announcements. They’re making announcements as though people can actually go and get their vaccines today,” Harris said.

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“The earliest possible date I could get a vaccine is not until May 12.”

Harris is not the only one feeling caught off guard. Many eligible frontline workers such as teachers took to social media to layout frustrations after finding out they couldn’t book online or would have to wait for a supervisor from the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) to call them back.

On Thursday, SHA posted that priority workers under the age of 40 could not book online, but could call, go to a walk-in, drive-through clinic or a pharmacy to book their appointment.

Read more: COVID-19 vaccine appointments fully booked in Regina, Saskatoon due to high demand

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“Clinic availability is based on vaccine availability, and demand for appointments outweighs the current supply,” the Saskatchewan Health Authority told Global News in an email Friday.

“When eligibility opens to additional groups, appointments fill up fast, particularly in urban centres like Regina and Saskatoon.

“There may be additional clinic options in rural and northern communities, and residents are encouraged to consider those alternate locations for immunization.”

Paul Merriman, Saskatchewan’s health minister said the callbacks are the government’s way of verifying those on the priority list.

“It is a bit of a process, but it’s very important that we make sure that the right people are getting into the vaccination clinics at the right time,” Merriman said.

Merriman said the province is expecting a shipment of more 9,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines Tuesday.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 vaccine supplies set to increase in Saskatchewan' COVID-19 vaccine supplies set to increase in Saskatchewan
COVID-19 vaccine supplies set to increase in Saskatchewan – Apr 28, 2021

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