3rd COVID-19 vaccine doses for international travel would be offered in Sask. only if top doc signs off: health minister

Paul Merriman makes an announcement in Saskatoon on July 27, 2021. (CTV News)

A day after Quebec announced it would allow additional COVID-19 vaccine doses for travellers heading to countries where Astra-Zeneca or mixed doses are not recognized, health minister Paul Merriman said the option would be offered in Saskatchewan only if the province's top doctor recommends it.

Merriman was asked about the potential for a" third dose" during a news conference in Saskatoon on Tuesday.

The health minister was quick to emphasize the extra doses Quebec is offering have nothing to do with vaccine efficacy and only are about ease of movement for those travelling internationally.

"It's not about how effective the vaccines are, whether you got AstraZeneca, Moderna , or Pfizer or any combination of those … your level of protection is still the same. This is only specific to people that are travelling to countries that may have requirements that you have a double dose of the same vaccine," Merriman said.

Merriman indicated that any decision made by the province regarding additional doses would be based on the recommendation of Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab.

With there is little data when it comes potential side effects that may come with an additional dose, the Government of Quebec said it would it extend the option to international travellers at their own risk.

The Saskatchewan government also said Wednesday it will not require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for large events or any other purpose.

Seventy-four per cent of those over 12 have received their first dose and 62 per cent are fully vaccinated, the province says.

In a statement, it encouraged eligible residents to get vaccinated. It says the Ministry of Health continues to encourage vaccination through various social and traditional media campaigns.

“We have offered several ways to get vaccinated, including booked appointments, drive-thru and walk-in clinics, targeted community clinics and pop up clinics across the province.”