With COVID-19 vaccines becoming available to younger people across Saskatchewan amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, demand is on the rise, but it appears some vaccines are more popular than others.
Some are travelling hours to get one vaccine while nearby clinics offer another. People in both Regina and Saskatoon appear to be prepared to wait hours at drive-thrus.
Saskatoon wait times peaked around four hours Tuesday, while in Regina people waited up to six hours to get the shot.
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As for booking appointments, many have found it difficult to get one, especially in Saskatoon.
Crystal Anderson McLeod ended up travelling an hour away to Rosthern to get the Pfizer vaccine.
“The difference was about nine days as to when I could get the appointment in Saskatoon,” she explained. “So that’s why I drove, I chose to drive.”
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While demand is high, it appears to depend on which vaccine is offered.
For example, the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) started offering the AstraZeneca vaccine at its walk-in clinic at SaskTel Centre. It has enough to inject 330 people every day until Saturday, but people aren’t showing up.
“We had yesterday probably about 55 people that came in as walk-ins,” said Tribal Chief Mark Arcand.
“I hope people are not shopping for their own, specific vaccine, because any vaccine will help is what I’m being told,” he said.
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The clinic is also offering the Pfizer vaccine through appointments. Demand there is night and day; around 14,000 people preregistered for the shot, according to Arcand.
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“We still have 10,000 people to vaccinate that are pre-registered,” said Arcand, adding some people are opting to go to walk-ins or travel out of the city.
“Basically we’ve got 10,000 people that have pre-registered. We haven’t been able to get to today because the amount of doses [of the Pfizer vaccine].”
At a press conference Tuesday, the provincial government stood by its sentiment that the best vaccine if the one you’re offered first, and getting it is worth the wait.
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“We are seeing long line-ups at the drive-thrus because people want to be vaccinated. That’s a good thing,” said Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone.
“As we continue to receive more vaccines we’re open more drive-thrus. The expansion into more community pharmacies will also ease some of that waiting time.”
The province announced Tuesday it’s pharmacy program will expand further north, including several locations in Saskatoon.
The province said even with the help, as age eligibility continues to open up, appointments fill up fast.
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