Vaccination numbers in Saskatchewan are climbing at a slightly faster pace than last week after Thursday’s provincial proof of vaccination program announcement.
Currently, close to 70 per cent of the eligible population has received at least one dose, whereas about 60 per cent are fully vaccinated.
However, a majority of those in hospitals and the ICU with COVID-19 are individuals who are still unvaccinated.
“The way for all of us in this province to support our front-line health care services is, if you’re not yet vaccinated, if you’re part of that 30 per cent that could be part of the (unvaccinated) 80 per cent in our hospitals and in our ICU beds, I would ask you again to revisit your decision,” Premier Scott Moe said on Thursday.
“It is the most effective tool that we’ve had personally and as a society in combatting this virus,” he added.
More than 1.5 million doses have been administered in Saskatchewan so far, and more than 719,00 people are fully vaccinated.
Over the past week, more than 8,400 people have gone out and gotten their first dose.
However, vaccination numbers in the north still remain low compared to the rest of the province.
“We do have a challenge in our vaccination rates in the far north and in many of our Indigenous communities in this province and I’ve met with a number of our Indigenous leaders over the course of this campaign about just that,” Moe said.
He goes on to say that he hopes the federal government will help Saskatchewan increase vaccination numbers, not just within Indigenous communities in the province, but all communities.
In terms of the proof of vaccination programs coming into effect on Oct. 1., infectious disease specialist Dr. Alex Wong says that should have been implemented by government officials much sooner in order to have avoided the dire situation that hospitals and ICU are currently in.
Dr. Wong says medical professionals in Saskatchewan have been calling for tougher health-care policies for “weeks and weeks on end,” and have been disappointed to see government officials wait this long to act on proof of vaccination programs.
Wong also says that officials need to go beyond the indoor mask mandate and bring back restrictions on gathering sizes.
“Encouragement and trying to, I guess, exhort everyone to get vaccinated, who hadn’t been vaccinated did nothing,” Wong stated.
There are currently close to 63, 000 people who are COVID positive in the province, and 262 individuals are either hospitalized or in ICU.
“These types of measures and certificates and mandates have obviously worked in about every jurisdiction across the entire first world and so to somehow believe that wasn’t going to work here in Saskatchewan is — it is what it is,” said Dr. Wong.
“I mean, if we just look at what Manitoba did in terms of being proactive with regards to their mandate program and with regards to their masking and such, and other things, they’re probably, again, in way, way better shape because their policy makers took proactive measures — did them early, did them definitively, to try to keep ahead of all of this rather than basically waiting until it was essentially too late,” he added.
Dr. Wong says that much of his outreach work with those still on the fence about getting the jab involves several one-on-one, lengthy conversations that can be around an hour or even more in some cases of providing information and stats on the efficacy of vaccines.
“It takes a lot of work and effort and energy to move people from the hesitant category to action and at the end of the day, you know it’s not a simple thing,” he said.
Both Moe and Wong say fighting vaccine disinformation is also an ongoing battle for the province.
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