5% of kids aged five and under in Saskatchewan have received a COVID-19 vaccine

Click to play video: 'Health Matters: New details about children’s vaccines'
Health Matters: New details about children’s vaccines
Global BC Medical Contributor Dr. Birinder Narang talks to Jennifer Palma about new recommendations for children's vaccines as Health Canada approves the first booster for kids aged 5-11. – Aug 20, 2022

As students return to classrooms in just a matter of the days, doctors in Saskatchewan are urging people to get their COVID-19 boosters.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has released a number of key statistics when it comes to the province’s residents getting vaccinated.

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As of Aug. 22, only 2.38 per cent of the eligible population between the ages of 18 and 49 have received their fourth dose. A total of 9,672 fourth doses have been delivered, out of an eligible population of 418,979 people.

However, for third doses (first boosters), 195,482 third doses have been delivered. That equates to 47.16 per cent of people between 18 and 49 years old.

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For those under five years old, 3,691 doses (3,678 first doses and 13 second doses) have been administered. This is 4.90 per cent of the eligible population of 75,011.

Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine said one of the reasons we are seeing a low number of fourth doses may be due to many people feeling some vaccine fatigue.

“There is some degree of fatigue not only from COVID-19, but also perhaps from vaccines as well,” Muhajarine said. “That constant refrain that we hear that you need to get this next dose that is available.”

For Muhajarine, he said the misinformation about what the vaccine actually does for your body is one of the reasons for a low uptake in fourth doses, specifically with how it reacts to the Omicron variant.

He said while the vaccine doesn’t make you less susceptible to the virus, it does prevent long-term COVID-19 sickness. While the vaccine was developed moreso for the previous strains of the virus, it is still effective at creating and teaching antibodies to be ready for infection.

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“The vaccines are still protecting us from ending up in hospital and dying of COVID-19,” he said. “So the vaccine may not necessarily protect you against getting infected from Omicron, but is still protecting you from ending up in hospitals.”

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Dr. Cory Neudorf, a professor in the community health and epidemiology department at the College of Medicine in Saskatoon, said moving forward, if Saskatchewan residents are to truly live with COVID-19, they must adapt month to month or season to season.

“This wave is on the increase and that’s going to be our new normal for the next few years is to keep an eye on what the virus doing in our community right now,” Neudorf said.

“When do we need to don our masks again and when can we be less concerned about that again? Is there a new booster dose available that I’m eligible for and when can I go get it? If we can all do that more, we’ll be out of this pandemic a lot sooner.”

Moving forward into the fall, Neudorf hopes more people, especially in the younger age category, begin to get their doses as kids move into schools and daycares for the very first time.

“You can think of it as just another way to get ready for the fall is getting that booster dose that you’re eligible for and making sure you’re understanding the level of risk in your community. Doing all you can to prevent your child getting ill becomes more important during this wave.”

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Staff shortages plaguing Saskatchewan’s health care system

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