The first Moderna vaccines have arrived in Saskatchewan as of December 30th and will be headed to the province’s northern remote communities.
In a Wednesday afternoon update, the province says that these first 4,900 vaccines will be given out to long-term or personal care home staff and residents, along with front line health care workers in communities in the Far North West and Central areas of Saskatchewan. These areas were chosen because of two factors, according to Chief Medical Officer of Health Saskatchewan Dr. Saqib Shahab: high numbers of cases and high positivity rates.
It’s expected that vaccination will start in those areas in the week of January 4th, and continue on the week of January 11th. In the update, Shahab explained that these vaccines can be stored at -20 degrees, as opposed to the Pfizer vaccine which must be stored at -70, making it easier to transport and store especially in more remote communities.
He adds that given the vast span of the area, the work to set up clinics, distribute the vaccine and get the word out to communities in the area is ongoing.
Next phase of Pfizer BioNTech Vaccines headed to Prince Albert
Also announced Wednesday is the next phase of Pfizer BioNTech vaccines coming to the province, this time 3,900 going to Prince Albert. Prince Albert is one of the communities with the ultra-low temp freezers needed to store the vaccine, but the government says they are working to get four more brought into the province by the end of the month.
Saskatchewan is set to get more than 20,000 doses through January, which Shahab explains will allow them to branch out to long term or personal care homes, some of which have already begun receiving them.
The Pfizer vaccine is also expected to be more consistent in its distribution, at 6,825 per week. Moderna, on the other hand, is expected to ship three to five thousand doses a week, with the bulk arriving in March, Shahab notes.
As of December 30th, 1,834 have been administered to health-care workers and others in Regina, and another 1,108 doses in Saskatoon.
Health Minister Paul Merriman also noted that he expects the Federal Government to start receiving and shipping many more doses of the vaccine in the new year, as he expressed concern about smaller numbers the Feds have shipped thus far.
Vaccines for the full general population to roll out by the summer, Shabab says
Dr. Shabab also noted in his update that it could be the mid-point of 2021 before vaccines are readily available for the general population.
Explaining that supplies will be likely limited over the first three months of the year, he’s hopeful that by April and May there will be more supply of the two Health Canada approved vaccines.
He adds that the possibility of approval of the recently U.K okayed Astrazenca vaccine could bring the province closer to a wider rollout. The summertime would see the vaccine given out to younger age groups with underlying health conditions, and then to the general population.
Shabab has also called on people to continue working on healthy habits to protect the province’s most vulnerable to COVID-19, especially as people return to work and school after the Holiday break.