Saskatoon Tribal Council clinic announces first-come, first-served COVID-19 vaccine doses

The same day Saskatchewan greatly increased vaccine eligibility, the Saskatoon Tribal Council announced it would offer doses on a first-come, first-served basis at its clinic.

On Friday, the province lowered age-based eligibility to 40 and expanded eligibility to people who work in front-line professions such as teachers and correctional officers.

Those not meeting the age criteria could only book an appointment by phone, leading to a long queue of thousands of calls to the provincial booking service Friday morning.

CTV News called the vaccine booking line at 10:45 a.m. on Friday and there were more than 3,000 calls in the queue, according to the automated voice.

The STC hopes to address the demand with its new shipment of 2,000 Astrazeneca vaccines, from Indigenous Services Canada.

Starting next week, over 300 doses will be administered per day, from Monday to Saturday, on a first-come, first-serve basis for anyone who meets the province’s vaccine eligibility rules.

“We’re very proud to have that opportunity to give out more vaccines. It’ll be the first 330 people as walk-ins,” STC Chief Mark Arcand said.

“I have to warn people, there’s going to be a wait because we can only do eight people ever 10 minutes.”

The walk-in vaccines, are in addition to the current 200 doses the STC administers through bookings.

Proof of employment or age is required before getting the shot.

While many teachers throughout the province encountered problems booking appointments by phone, thanks to a pre-booking process at the STC clinic, many were able to get vaccinated on Friday.

Grade Three teacher Chelsea Laprairie said she had been awaiting this day.

“We take care of people’s kids every day. They’re super important to us, so to be vaccinated — it’s an exciting thing,” the teacher at Dr. John G. Egnatoff School told CTV News.

“It’s a step forward to this pandemic coming to an end.”