Although the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have arrived, the province is far from returning to normal.
Saskatchewan ICUs full or close to it, Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is still considering how to vaccinate the province and, says a SHA doctor, long-term home care residents may need to wait for the modern vaccine to be approved.
Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday, Dr Tania Diener, SHA’s chief medical officer in Regina, emphasized that Saskatchewan residents still had to follow the public health guidelines because we were in the midst of an epidemic.
“This is the time for us all to come together and fight the virus with some of the tools we have at the moment,” he said.
Drs. Jeffrey Betcher, the first person in Saskatchewan to be vaccinated and head of the Regina intensive care department, warned that Saskatoon’s intensive care unit was “well” to the point that referrals from northern medical centers were being sent to Regina, which is also full.
“We are overflowing again, in our ICU. I know the Prince Albert ICU is very crowded, ”he said, adding that other care centers in the province were about to fill up.
Dr. Diener reiterated the immunization of 1,950 health care workers, which began on Tuesday, is a pilot project designed to monitor the use of goods and the distribution of shipments throughout Saskatchewan.
He said it was “the most complex thing we have ever experienced, in terms of the distribution of vaccines,” but added that Regina SHA staff have begun to share what they have learned with the rest of the province.
He said the Health Authority was planning to vaccinate another 1,950 health care workers and that he expected more doses of the Pfizer vaccine to arrive weekly.
He also warned that the SHA leadership did not have the dates for the project to be completed and said that the general strike would start in March.
He warned that long-term home care vaccines may have to wait until the modern vaccine is approved, as they are easy to transport.
The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, the only Health Canada vaccine it has so far approved, should be stored at a temperature of 80 C.
Diener said he did not know when the coalition government would receive the modern vaccine but believed it would be available soon.
“We are here between a rock and a hard place. We have to rely on [vaccine] companies and Health Canada to get it approved, but this is what we want, ”he said.
When asked about the apparent reluctance of Saskatchewan residents to get a gun, Diener said it was important to press the vaccine safe and effective.
“There are no safety regulations in place [during research and production], all adequate tests, according to the trials of various stages, to reach certain extremities, which are achieved.”