On Tuesday, February 9th, the SHA and Provincial Government released more details about their COVID-19 vaccine delivery plan. As part of Phase 1, healthcare workers, who work in the following areas, will continue to be prioritized:
- Congregate living settings such as long-term care and personal care homes;
- Adult ICU;
- Emergency departments;
- Respiratory therapy;
- COVID-19 designated wards;
- Code blue and trauma teams;
- COVID-19 assessment and testing centres;
- EMS, road and air transport teams; and
- All healthcare workers over 70 years of age.
Contrary to the plans outlined last month (January 14), which would have seen all registered nurses vaccinated as a priority in Phase 2, we understand that under the current plan no healthcare workers other than those identified in Phase 1 will be prioritized in Phase 2. All remaining healthcare workers will be vaccinated in the same way and on the same age-based schedule as the general public.
I know many SUN members are confused and disappointed by the significant change to Phase 2. We share your disappointment and are very concerned.
As the frontline of this pandemic from day one, you have given everything to your patients for close to a year, often at the expense of your own mental and physical health. I hear from members daily about the enormous pressures you are under, and about how these pressures are beginning to take their toll. With all that you have faced, you should not have to worry about vaccination rollout too.
You are essential to the functioning of our health system and to us beating COVID-19 – you must remain a priority in our vaccine rollout plan. Our province should be following evidence, and best practices for vaccination of health workers being employed in Canada, and around the globe. By no longer prioritizing healthcare workers in Phase 2 of Saskatchewan’s vaccination rollout, we are neglecting national standards and the guidelines stipulated by Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunizations – the NACI.
The NACI clearly states that Phase 1 should include:
- Residents and staff of congregate living settings that provide care for seniors,
- Health care workers (including all those who work in health care settings and personal support workers whose work involves direct contact with patients),
- Adults 70 years of age and older, beginning with adults 80 years of age and older, and
- Adults in Indigenous communities where infection can have disproportionate consequences.
The NACI then goes on to state that in Phase 2:
- All other health care workers, residents and staff that were not vaccinated in Phase 1 be prioritized, along with essential workers.
Unlike other Canadian provinces, this is no longer the case for Phase 2 in Saskatchewan.
Focussing on the general population in 10-year increments is critically important, however, neglecting registered nurses, physicians, and all other healthcare workers as a priority in this second phase is wrong. Keeping the frontline safe protects the capacity of the health-care system.
Patients need to know the system is working for them as it always has, and to know they are safe when they enter the system because their providers – all of you, who interact with many people each day – are protected. We have come to one of the most critical junctures in this pandemic. We finally have a vaccine and there is hope once again. But we need to get the rollout right and after what we have heard this week – this is not happening.
The plan needs to be re-evaluated and SUN, along with our healthcare partners will be urgently advocating for this on your behalf. But there are things you can do to help too.
Now is the time we need to unite and use our collective voices to stand up and protect our patients ourselves, and our communities. You can call your MLA – and I urge you all to do so – and you can contact Blake McMullen at the SHA to learn more about an appeal process. It is time for collective action. The more government and SHA hear from all of you, the more seriously they will take your concerns.
Finally, I want to remind you that SUN will continue to be your rock – you can always count on us. We will stand up for you at every turn because we know that Saskatchewan depends on you and your safety is integral to our success.
Tracy Zambory, RN
In Case You Missed It:
- February 10, 2021 SHA Daily Rounds (check your emails)
- February 9, 2021 Vaccine Update (HCWs removed from Phase 2)
- January 14 Vaccine Delivery Update (HCWs included in Phase 2)
- Vaccine Sequencing Plan for Healthcare Workers (January 14)
WHAT MEMBERS CAN DO
To express your concerns with the removal of HCWs from Phase 2 of the Vaccine Rollout Plan, you can:
Activate APPEAL process
- Contact Blake McMullen, to learn more about the appeal process in place.
- To appeal the new priority sequencing for the COVID-19 vaccine, please contact Blake McMullen with the SHA at Blake.McMullen@saskhealthauthority.ca
- SHARE YOUR CONCERNS WITH SHA
- Contact Scott Livingstone, SHA CEO at firstname.lastname@example.org
- PHONE YOUR MLA to stress your concerns and urge the Government to follow national standards and revise the roll-out vaccine plan to immunize HCWs before the general public.
- CONTACT PREMIER MOE & HEALTH MINISTER PAUL MERRIMAN to have your voice heard.