Chief pilot Lucas Charbonneau and pilot Gradyn Haapala load the Moderna vaccine to take to Southend & Wollaston. (Courtesy Colin Ratushniak)

The mayor of La Ronge says he commends the front-line workers who administered hundreds of doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to residents of the province’s far northeast over the weekend.

Colin Ratushniak, who is also a front-line medevac pilot, was among those to receive the vaccine. He advocates for everyone who is eligible to do the same.

“We really demanded science and the medical community to supply this vaccine as fast as safely possible. And now it’s our job as citizens to get it, because as we know, we need about a 70 per cent vaccination rate to get us through this pandemic.”

On Jan. 4 Ratushniak, Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson and Air Ronge Mayor Julie Baschuk had asked the health ministry why the Far North East region was not included in the rollout plan for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in the north.

The Far North Central and Far North West regions had 21 and 144 cases respectively, compared the 309 cases in the Far North East, they noted.

Within 40 hours the doses were reallocated and arrived on Friday, he said.

The three communities banding together shows newfound teamwork, Ratushniak said.

“We have direct access with each other and talk to each other daily ... ‘stronger together’ is better in the end and this time around it really, really shows.”

Ratushniak urges people to “buckle down” and continue to follow the advice of health experts.

“We’re definitely nowhere near through this and it's going to still probably be at least another year, I think, or more before we’re going to be back to full normality.”

As of Tuesday 9,880 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Saskatchewan, the province said in a news release.

They include 684 Moderna doses in the Far North West zone; 226 Moderna doses in the Far North Central zone; 1,193 Moderna doses in the Far North East zone; and 507 Moderna doses in the North East zone.

The next Moderna shipment of 5,400 doses is expected to arrive in Saskatchewan on Thursday. Five hundred doses will be distributed to the Far North East zone.