Saskatchewan's COVID-19 Immunization Delivery Plan is built on the foundation of age as the main risk factor.
Phase 1 is focused on vaccinating high-risk populations, people of advanced age, and health care workers that have been identified as a priority.
Phase 2 is focused on vaccinating the general population by age, as well as the clinically extremely vulnerable and people in emergency shelters and group homes.
Focusing on age as a primary risk factor will enable Saskatchewan residents to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in a more efficient and timely manner.
Moving between phases
The timeline for Saskatchewan's COVID-19 Vaccination Delivery Strategy is dependent on vaccine supply and availability. The federal government is working to obtain as much vaccine as possible to distribute to provinces and territories.
It's important to understand the timeline for each phase may change due to vaccine availability.
You will not miss your chance to get the vaccine when a new phase starts. Once you become eligible, you are always eligible. If you are in Phase 1, you can still get the vaccine in Phase 2.
Timeline: December 2020
- Saskatchewan conducted a pilot of the shipping, delivery and storage of 1,950 doses of the Pfizer ultra-frozen vaccine.
- 1,950 health care workers were vaccinated at Regina General Hospital.
- First recipients of vaccine were health care workers in ICUs, Emergency Departments and COVID Units at Regina General and Pasqua Hospitals and testing and assessment centres.
- Pilot recipients received their second dose 21 days following the administration of the first dose (during Phase 1).
- Pilot project to better understand the handling and storage requirements of the Pfizer vaccine.
Timeline: December 2020 - March 2021
- Phase 1 began on December 22, 2020
- Immunization targeted to priority populations, including long-term care and personal care home residents, specific health care workers and vulnerable populations.
- The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has issued guidance to provinces on the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Saskatchewan's Chief Medical Health Officer has reviewed NACI guidelines and modified them for Saskatchewan's demographics and logistical requirements.
- March 2021 guidance from NACI recommended increasing the interval between first and second doses of applicable vaccines in the interest of vaccinating more people, quicker. Saskatchewan is following this practice.
- Long-term care and personal care home residents and staff.
- Health care workers in emergency departments, intensive care units, COVID-19 wards and COVID testing and assessment staff, respiratory therapists; code blue and trauma teams; and EMS, road and air transport teams.
- Residents 70 years and older in all communities) starting with the oldest first, working down by age)
- Residents over the age of 50 living in remote/Northern Saskatchewan.
- Additional health care workers included in priority sequencing for Phase 1 as announced February 16, 2021. These additional workers include:
- Individuals directly involved in delivering COVID-19 immunizations in Phase 2 including physicians (up to 2,600), pharmacists (up to 1,200) and other SHA health care providers involved in delivering COVID-19 immunizations;
- Anesthesia/operating rooms;
- All other critical care areas;
- Vaccination teams;
- Radiology technicians;
- Phlebotomy/lab workers handling COVID-19 specimens; and
- Home care (direct care providers).
Timeline: March 2021
- Phase 2 began March 18, 2021
- Focused on vaccinating the general population from oldest to youngest. Population numbers:
Targeted vaccinations to select congregate living:
- Group homes for persons with intellectual disabilities
- Emergency shelters
People with underlying health conditions that are clinically extremely vulnerable:
NOTE: People with the following conditions will receive letters, notifying them of their eligibility for Phase 2 priority sequencing, regardless of age. This letter is required in order to book an appointment.
- Solid organ transplant recipients.
- People with specific cancers:
- People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy.
- People with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy.
- People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment.
- People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer.
- People having other targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors.
- People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs.
- People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- People with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell disease).
- People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection (biologic modifiers, high dose steroids, AZT, cyclophosphamide).
- People who had their spleen removed.
- Adults with very significant developmental disabilities that increase risk.
- Adults on dialysis or with chronic kidney disease (stage 5).
- Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.
- Significant neuromuscular conditions requiring respiratory support.
- Projected finished: Fall 2021 (depending on available vaccine supplies)
Remaining Health Care Workers To Be Allocated Unused Phase 1 Doses
As part of the Phase 1 prioritization framework, 40,500 health care workers were prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine. Of those 40,500 priority vaccinations, first-dose uptake amongst priority health care workers has been 27,348 (67 per cent). Government announced April 12, 2021 that additional frontline health care workers not included in Phase 1 prioritization will be allocated the remaining 13,152 first-doses.
All physicians are being included in priority sequencing as they may be called on to assist in clinical care areas and surge capacity needs. Eligible SHA healthcare workers and physicians will receive notice and a letter of eligibility directing them to book a vaccination appointment by telephone (1-833-SASKVAX – 1-833-727-5829). The notification will come from either the College of Physicians and Surgeons for doctors or the SHA for other healthcare staff, and is required before booking an appointment. The SHA frontline healthcare staff includes outpatient and community services staff, nurses, pharmacists, therapy staff, mental health professionals, social workers, housekeeping, dietary and ward support staff.
Targeted first responders through mobile vaccination units once current priority populations are complete
- Government announced April 12, 2021 that once mobile vaccinations in select congregate living settings are complete, mobile vaccination units will target first responders including police officers, fire fighters and public health inspectors and will be dispatched to central workplace settings
- Paramedics, commonly considered first responders, were prioritized for vaccination in Phase 1 of the vaccine delivery plan.
Pharmacies to Prioritize Staff Working in Pharmacy and Grocery Facilities
- Government announced April 12, 2021 that in addition to offering increased access to the general public in pharmacies through the age-based sequence, pharmacists will be offering vaccines to pharmacy and grocery staff working in the facility where vaccines are offered.
- Pharmacies will require proof of employment in the facility where the vaccine is being delivered. Any staff working in a facility where vaccine delivery is occurring will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in that facility.
Why Focus on Age?
- Age is the number one risk factor for severe outcomes, hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19.
- People of advanced age are more likely to be clinically extremely vulnerable or living with other chronic conditions.