COVID-19: Saskatchewan vaccinating youth 12+, announce second dose rollout

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan vaccinating youth 12+, announce second dose rollout' Saskatchewan vaccinating youth 12+, announce second dose rollout
WATCH: With a “blockbuster supply” of vaccines on the way, Saskatchewan is going to start booking second doses before the end of the month and is adding youth 12 and up to its immunization plan – May 7, 2021

Saskatchewan is set to administer the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine to youth aged 12 to 15.

The province also announced Thursday its plans for rolling out second vaccination doses.

Read more: ‘Is it approved for me yet?’: Sask. family with diabetic daughter welcomes lower Pfizer age limit

Health officials said they anticipate all Saskatchewan adults will have received their first dose by the end of May.

“There will still be people receiving their first doses as we begin to offer second doses to those residents in the order of priority that we started our provincial vaccination program,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said in a statement.

“But with a reliable vaccine supply and the exceptional capacity we have built-in Saskatchewan, we will start booking those second doses and ensure full immunity to every resident who chooses to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

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“Vaccination is our path out of the pandemic.”

Officials said the province is starting second doses at an interval of 13 weeks or sooner based on the availability of vaccines distributed by the federal government.

They added that they anticipate all Saskatchewan residents will be fully vaccinated with two doses by the end of July.

Click to play video: '2nd COVID-19 vaccine dose eligibility to begin May 17 in Saskatchewan' 2nd COVID-19 vaccine dose eligibility to begin May 17 in Saskatchewan
2nd COVID-19 vaccine dose eligibility to begin May 17 in Saskatchewan – May 6, 2021

Youth vaccination

Health officials said approximately 91,000 youth will be eligible to receive the vaccine, with the target of having first doses administered by the end of June.

Vaccinations will occur through school-based programs, pharmacies or Saskatchewan Health Authority clinics and parental consent is required.

The province said it is still finalizing the details on school-based programs and the parental consent process.

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Read more: Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine approved for Canadians 12 and over, Health Canada says

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Merriman said officials are trying to make vaccines available to high school students before exams.

“We have had programs that have run in the elementary schools over the years with vaccination so we’re just transferring that same knowledge that we have in the public health vaccination in the younger years to the older years.”

Merriman added officials will work with health-care workers within education and bring mobile clinics out to schools to administer vaccinations in a short time.

With students starting summer vacation come late June, Merriman explained that students will still be eligible for their second dose and can get that done at other locations such as a pharmacy or walk-in clinic.

“If (vaccinations) are done in early June, when (students) come back to school in early September it’d still be well within that 120 days and they can received their second dose,” Merriman added.

Youth aged 12 to 15 who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable can be vaccinated immediately, health officials said.

A letter is required for those youth in order to receive vaccinations.

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Youth receiving rituximab and ocrelizumab need to obtain a letter from their physician.

The letter will come from the Saskatchewan government for youth with a cancer diagnosis or in treatment or who have received a solid organ transplant.

Second doses

Administration of second doses will start in May according to the age-based and priority sequencing of first doses, the province announced.

Starting May 17, anyone aged 85 and older who received their first dose prior to Feb. 15 can book their second shot.

Priority for second doses will also start that day for people diagnosed with or being treated for cancer and those who have received solid organ transplants.

Read more: ‘Blockbuster’ supply of COVID-19 vaccines forecast for Saskatchewan

Second dose vaccinations will be available at participating pharmacies across the province, through the Saskatchewan Health Authority patient booking system, drive-thru and walk-in clinics as well as through clinics operated by Indigenous Services Canada and the Northern Inter-tribal Health Authority (NITHA).

Public health said it is planning to offer the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to match the brand of a person’s first dose.

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Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan looking into possibility of mixing COVID-19 vaccines if supply is low' Saskatchewan looking into possibility of mixing COVID-19 vaccines if supply is low
Saskatchewan looking into possibility of mixing COVID-19 vaccines if supply is low – May 6, 2021

They said national reviews of the safety and efficacy of interchanging the second dose brand are on-going and the provincial policy on maintaining the same brand for the second dose may be updated following this review.

Notification of second dose eligibility will happen through broad public communication including public service announcements, government of Saskatchewan news releases, the COVID-19 vaccine website, social media posts and additional channels as deemed necessary.

– with files from Kelly Skjerven


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