Saskatchewan announces 4-month gap between first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine

The Saskatchewan government announced on Thursday that it will be spacing out first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months.

The announcement comes on the heels of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommendation released Wednesday that provinces and territories extend the period between the first and second doses due to vaccine shortages.

Read more: Provinces, territories can wait 4 months to administer 2nd COVID-19 shot, NACI says

“We are officially moving to the four-month interval,” Premier Scott Moe said during a virtual premiers’ conference focused on federal health transfers.

He also criticized the federal government’s procurement of vaccines.

“They’ve done a disappointing job at best,” Moe said.

Saskatchewan will implement NACI’s recommendation starting Friday.

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Government officials specified in a press release that this four-month interval does not apply to long-term and personal care home residents and staff who are still waiting to receive either both doses or just their second dose.

Several provinces made the move to four-month intervals between doses before NACI’s announcement, including British Columbia and Manitoba.

Read more: Saskatchewan premier hints at easing some COVID-19 restrictions early

At a press conference on Tuesday, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said the province would look at taking the same approach depending on NACI’s recommendations. He added if the province did take this approach, Saskatchewan residents 18 and over could be vaccinated by the end of June.

Arrival of AstraZeneca in Saskatchewan  

Saskatchewan government officials said residents aged 60 to 64 and Phase 1 priority health-care workers will be offered the first 15,500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

NACI recommends that AstraZeneca be given to individuals under 65. Making these doses available to residents in the 60-64 age category is an exception to Saskatchewan’s Phase 1 criteria in order to follow NACI’s recommendations.

Administration of AstraZeneca doses is set to begin on March 22.

All 15,500 doses are expected to be administered within one week on a by-appointment basis.

Health-care workers will receive information about their availability from the Saskatchewan Health Authority directly. Eligible individuals will be able to book appointments over the phone.

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The phone-in booking system for COVID-19 vaccines is still in its testing phase before it is launched next week. Residents are asked not to call 811 seeking a vaccination appointment at this time.

Shahab and Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone will be holding a press conference on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m.

You can watch the press conference live on this page at 3 p.m. CST.

More to come…

—With files from Hannah Jackson

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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