As COVID-19 variant cases surge, Sask. nurses' union says vaccine plan needs to shift focus to essential workers

The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) is calling on the province to pivot its COVID-19 vaccination plan to include essential workers.

Currently, vaccination priority is based on age in Saskatchewan.

SUN says it’s time to adjust that strategy and give the shot to all essential workers — including grocery store workers, police officers and teachers.

Tracy Zambory, president of SUN, says it’s critical to include essential workers as new variants of COVID-19 are spreading across Saskatchewan and ICU beds are already over capacity.

“If we keep ourselves on this trajectory we must change our vaccination strategy,” Zambory tells CTV News.

“We need to get all essential workers vaccinated as soon as possible.”

SUN’s call for action follows a similar message from the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA).

“COVID-19 is mutating into variants of concern that threaten to overwhelm Saskatchewan’s health system. The virus is adapting. We ask the government to show flexibility and adapt to the rapidly changing circumstances of the pandemic,” says Dr. Barb Konstantynowicz, SMA president.

Saskatchewan’s Heath Minister Paul Merriman says vaccinating by age is the best way to go, and changing course to include essential workers, could slow things down.

“The age-based sequence is still the best way of getting the most vaccines out,” Merriman told reporters Wednesday.

The province expects everyone 30 years and older to be vaccinated by May 10.