Vaccination still urged as Sask. prepares to open up

With just 71 percent of Sask. residents having a first dose and 50 percent having both, the premier said people should continue to be careful and respect the decisions of individual businesses and places that implement their own mask policies. | Screencap via Twitter/@PremierScottMoe

Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe continues to urge residents aged 12 and over to be vaccinated for COVID-19, even as the province prepares to remove all public health restrictions July 11.

Masks will no longer be mandatory and the restrictions on how many people can attend events will be lifted.

However, with just 71 percent having a first dose and 50 percent having both, the premier said people should continue to be careful and respect the decisions of individual businesses and places that implement their own mask policies.

Masking and screening will continue at all acute care facilities and Saskatchewan Cancer Agency facilities. Visitors to long-term care facilities will be screened and are encouraged to mask.

COVID-19 will continue to circulate especially in unvaccinated populations, the premier said July 7.

“We do have an ample supply of vaccines in the province,” Moe said. “There’s absolutely no reason for anyone to not consider going out and getting vaccinated.”

He said none of the ICU hospital admissions and deaths in the last two weeks were in fully vaccinated people.

“If you’re not vaccinated, you’re at risk,” he said.

Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said the low case numbers reported through July may make people complacent.

“COVID 19 will continue to find those who are not vaccinated,” Shahab said. “We will continue to see cases and clusters.”

He noted that on July 7, during the last regularly scheduled weekly COVID update, 22 of the 53 reported cases were in the population aged 19 and under.

In June, 65 percent of 102 new hospital admissions were unvaccinated or had their first dose but did not yet have the immunity that comes three weeks later. Of the 21 in ICU, 81 percent were not vaccinated.

Shahab also said that while COVID is milder in younger people, variants are more transmissible and more severe.

“The risk remains and if anything is higher in people who choose to remain unvaccinated,” he said.

Shahab said people should continue to physically distance, wear masks, stay home with even mild symptoms and wash their hands often even though restrictions have been lifted.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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