Results from the funded study: Best Practices for Mitigating the Impact of SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern
Public Health, Health Systems and Social Policy Impacts
Soon after Health Canada authorized the first COVID-19 vaccine for use in Canada in early December 2020, each of the provinces and territories launched a vaccination campaign with the objectives of saving lives and ending the pandemic. This report provides an overview of measures taken in Saskatchewan to roll out and promote the uptake of the primary series of the COVID-19 vaccines to adults during the first year of vaccine availability.
The report describes the vaccination program in Saskatchewan’s:
- Underlying principles;
- Prioritization of population groups;
- Efforts to ensure access;
- Public communication strategies; and
- Actions to establish sufficient infrastructure and health workforce capacity.
One of a series of provincial case studies, this report can be used to understand Saskatchewan’s program in depth, as well as to compare and contrast provincial COVID-19 vaccination campaigns.
In Saskatchewan, a steering committee comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Health (including the Chief Medical Health Officer), Ministry of Government Relations, Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, and clinician groups provided logistical oversight and strategic direction to the vaccination program. The SHA’s emergency operation centre was the central managing body. Vaccine doses were first delivered to healthcare workers, residents and staff of long-term care homes, and later to adults by descending age group. Doses were first administered on a drop-in basis or via centralized booking at mass immunization, drive-through, and pop-up clinics, but were later provided by appointment at pharmacies and designated clinics. Strategies to ensure sufficient vaccination program personnel included calling in retired healthcare workers, international medical graduates, and civil servants. Although Saskatchewan was initially a leader in vaccination coverage, it dropped behind other provinces as the year went on. As of November 6, 2021, 80% of eligible Saskatchewan adults had received two vaccination doses, compared to the national average of 85%.