Communities in northern Sask. received doses the Moderna vaccine on Monday, but some First Nations say they haven’t been consulted about the vaccine distribution details.
Brian Hardlotte, chief of the Prince Albert Grand Council, said while he’s glad communities in Saskatchewan’s northcentral and northwestern regions received the vaccine, he isn’t pleased how the province handled the vaccination process.
“There was a committee formed, and that was before the Christmas season, and I thought our health directors were supposed to part of the consultation,” Hardlotte said.
“We’re not very happy.”
The vaccine arrived in Ile-a-la-Crosse on Monday and is being distributed to nine communities in the Meadow Lake Tribal Council. Black Lake and Fond du Lac also got shipments, according to the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA).
Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka, the medical health officer of the NITHA, said the vaccine is being distributed from health centres.
“The [prioritization] decision was made based on areas with the most COVID-19 attack rates, so in terms of what formed those decisions, we were not really at the table,” Ndubuka said.
“We just got the information that this is the number of vaccines that have been allocated to far north communities.”
Ndubuka said health care workers will be given first priority, then elders of 80 years and older. The remainder of the doses will be given to elders going down by five year increments, until the doses are gone.
Chief Hardlotte said the lack of consultation must be resolved.
“We need to be part of these things, they can’t leave us out. We’re part of the general population,” he said.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) said 4,900 doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived in Saskatchewan on New Years Eve.
Half of those doses were sent on to communities with the “highest attack rates in the province.”
According to the SHA, the rest of the doses will be distributed once the province has had time to monitor the efficiency and logistical requirements.
Hardlotte said an emergency meeting is scheduled on Tuesday with First Nation leaders, and both the federal and provincial governments, to discuss vaccine distribution.
Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health said it’s following guidelines provided by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization to determine vaccine prioritization.
Prince Albert is set to receive 3,900 doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine. The SHA said details on the rollout will be shared when they become available.