Fewer doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are coming into the province than initially expected, but the Government of Saskatchewan is making progress in the initial phase of its vaccination plan.
"We could get absolutely more vaccinations done, more quickly, if and when the federal government provides us with more doses," Health Minister Paul Merriman said during Wednesday’s provincial update.
To date, Saskatchewan has received 13,675 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, however, only 4,524 doses have been administered, including only 48 out of 4,900 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
The province said the slower rollout, specifically with the Moderna vaccine, is due to challenges with delivering it in remote locations of northern Saskatchewan.
"The logistical piece is extremely complicated and is being managed with great thought to make sure that we minimize wastage and distribute in a way that the vaccine is there when you need it," Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said.
PFIZER VACCINE ROLLOUT
The Government of Saskatchewan said it has begun administering second doses of COVID-19 vaccines in Regina, while both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines continue to be rolled out across the province.
Saskatchewan has received a total 8,775 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, as of Jan. 6.
Those totals include 3,900 doses in Regina and 4,875 in Saskatoon.
The pilot phase in Regina has completed its first dose with 2,069 people receiving the vaccine, which is more than the 1,950 that were initially scheduled to receive the shot.
"By carefully measuring and administrating the exact dosage in each shot, our healthcare workers were actually able to do 2,069 first doses," Merriman said.
Those people have now started receiving their second doses of the vaccine.
Health officials in Saskatoon have administered 98 per cent of first doses, with 2,407 people vaccinated to date.
Second doses are scheduled to begin in Saskatoon on Jan. 11.
Merriman said the province was required to hold the first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine for the pilot phase rather than using them all as first doses.
"The manufacturer and the Public Health Agency of Canada required us to hold back the second shots, going forward, we will no longer be doing that," he said.
The province said Prince Albert received 3,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday. Vaccinations in the area are expected to begin shortly after delivery.
The first priority groups in Prince Albert include health care workers and long-term care staff and residents.
The Government of Saskatchewan said 6,825 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be delivered each week, between January 11 and 25. This includes deliveries to Saskatoon and area on Jan. 11, Regina and area on Jan. 18 and North Battleford and area on Jan. 25.
An ultra low temperature freezer from the University of Regina is being moved to North Battleford to hold doses for priority populations in the north east zone.
The province received 4,900 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 28, which have been allocated to northern Saskatchewan.
The far north central zone will receive 710 doses, the far north west zone will receive 1,370 doses, the far north east zone will receive 1,450 doses and the north east zone will receive 1,370 doses.
First priority of the Moderna vaccine will go to eligible priority health care workers, long term care residents and staff; and residents over the age of 80.
The province said the whole allotment of the Moderna vaccine will be used for first doses.
An additional 5,300 doses are expected to be delivered to the province during the week off Jan. 11. Locations where those additional doses will be delivered are being determined.
"Now that we know that we’re getting a set amount every week for Pfizer, every two weeks for Moderna, we don’t have to hold back the second dose," Dr. Shahab said.