The president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) thinks the province’s program to roll out the COVID-19 vaccines needs to be sped up in a significant way.

“The quicker we go, the quicker we get our most vulnerable vaccinated, then there is less chance of outbreaks,” Tracy Zambory said.

One of the things Zambory thinks could help is if the province were to slow down the health-care system more to free up workers to then help with vaccinations.

“Some of that conversation needs to open up again about how we’re going to be able to get these human health resources put in place so that our vaccine rollout can get going and get up to speed,” explained Zambory.

She pointed out that, at the current pace, it would take years to get everyone in the province vaccinated, and the point of the program is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Zambory also feels there are problems in the province’s vaccination plan when it comes to transparency. She said healthcare workers don’t necessarily know what the plan is.

“We know that there’s lots of pockets of vaccinations happening but we don’t seem to have a coordinated effort moving forward,” said Zambory.

Zambory said people, healthcare workers included, should have a better idea of when they’re going to be able to get the vaccine. She said the plan should be open and explained; people should be able to understand what’s in front of them.

“There seems to be confusion and finger-pointing, which is exactly what we don’t need,” said Zambory.

Zambory wants a concrete, well-laid-out plan in front of the people, and said that will improve people’s confidence in the vaccinations.

“This is not too much to ask for. This is what good leadership is,” she said.

Immunizations in prisons

The offering of COVID-19 vaccinations to qualifying inmates started in federal prisons on Friday, including at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert.

Some disagree with that plan, arguing inmates should not get the vaccine before thousands of healthcare workers.

But Zambory said her union agrees with the decision to start immunizations in prisons. She said prisons are overcrowded and there have been massive outbreaks.

“We do not deny people, whether they’re incarcerated or not, the health care they deserve. It is a fundamental right of all and we support that,” said Zambory.

She pointed out there have been outbreaks in prisons and jails in Saskatchewan, and COVID affects guards and everyone who works in the prison system as well.