Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer says teachers and workers in other "front-facing" occupations will likely not receive COVID-19 vaccines until May or June.
Earlier this week, the head of the Saskatoon Teachers' Association (STA) told CTV News that vaccinating teachers should be a priority to help keep schools open.
"Teachers should be in that line very close behind healthcare workers. Kids’ wellbeing is our priority and the more we can keep kids in school the better off society is," STA President John McGettigan said on Tuesday.
Positive coronavirus cases have wreaked havoc on schools' operating schedules since classes resumed, forcing many students and teachers to unexpectedly switch to remote learning without notice.
However, during a news conference in Regina on Wednesday, Dr. Saqib Shahab said the limited supply of vaccines combined with the need posed by health care workers and older adults for whom COVID-19 poses the greatest risk, teachers may not receive their shot until the school year is winding down.
"Come May and June, then, of course, we may have more vaccine (and) beyond age groups you can look at front-facing occupations which are not health care, which includes teachers and other front-facing staff that have been performing essential work ever since March.”
During the news conference, health minister Paul Merriman said many sectors have been pushing for quicker access to COVID-19 vaccinations.
"We have been getting a lot of different requests from a lot of different areas saying they would like to be the next in line. We prioritize them on the science that Dr. Shahab and his team are able to inform us (about), where we need to get these vaccines at the highest priority," Merriman said.
Shahab said that he and other health officials in the province are following guidelines laid out by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization which outline which groups should be vaccinated first.