As Saskatchewan broke multiple COVID-19 records over the weekend, there was at least one positive piece of information that started to become a little clearer.
COVID-19 vaccination numbers have begun to climb since Premier Scott Moe announced mandatory masking and proof-of-vaccination policies on Thursday.
Although it’s only three days’ worth of data, the initial signs point to a response from Saskatchewan residents who may have delayed or resisted getting a jab.
On every day since the province announced proof-of-vaccination policies, it administered more first doses of the vaccine than it has on any day since the end of July.
Vaccinations ramping up
Take a look at this chart, which maps out how many first and second doses the province administered on a given day.
The number of doses have followed a clear pattern, with the number of vaccines ramping up toward the end of the week, cresting over the weekend and then falling as the next week begins.
You’ll notice that the “hills” have stayed roughly the same shape during the past month and half. The only exception is the most recent data we have, which shows a clear increase in the number of vaccinations.
A big reason in that increase is first doses.
On Saturday and Sunday, the province reported more first doses than any single day since the end of June.
On Saturday, that was 2,334 first doses. On Sunday, the province reported that it had administered 2,649 first doses. It’s the first time Saskatchewan administered more than 2,500 first doses in a day since June 20.
The total number of doses administered on Sunday, 4,522, is also an increase. The province hasn’t administered more than 4,500 doses in a day since July 30, when it reported 5,308 doses.
Period of stagnation
Part of the problem is that until now, vaccinations have stagnated in the province.
Saskatchewan roared out of the gate in administering vaccines once they became available to the general public. Mass vaccination clinics such as the drive-thru at Evraz Place in Regina helped to assist getting doses into arms.
That helped Saskatchewan become the top province for vaccinations administered per capita in April, long before second doses were widely available in the province.
In contrast, Saskatchewan now ranks among the bottom in vaccine coverage for both first and second doses.
According to Health Canada, 84.89 per cent of the Canadian population eligible to receive a vaccine had at least one dose as of Sept. 11.
Saskatchewan sits below that national figure, with just 78.4 per cent of its population receiving at least a first dose. Only Alberta is below Saskatchewan, with 77.5 per cent.
In the weeks after Saskatchewan lifted all public COVID-19 restrictions on July 11, the rate of vaccinations dropped.
The following chart shows how both first and second doses have flat-lined since July.
That becomes even more apparent when compared to the dramatic rise of first and second doses when they became available.
Unlike other provinces, Saskatchewan chose not to implement policies that would attempt to actively encourage more vaccinations.
This came even as politicians touted vaccinations as the only way out of the pandemic.
Saskatchewan also didn’t implement a vaccine lottery and it’s not paying people to get vaccinated, a policy recently announced by the Alberta government.
But the announcement of a proof-of-vaccination policy seems to have sparked a new push to get doses.
Proof of vaccination coming Oct. 1
As of Oct. 1, the government has said it will require either proof of vaccination or a negative test to access a variety of public places, including:
- Indoor dining at restaurants.
- Nightclubs, bars, taverns and other licensed establishments.
- Event and entertainment venues, including conference centres, casinos, movie theatres, concert venues, live-music venues, museums and indoor facilities hosting ticketed sporting events.
- Indoor fitness centres and gyms.
The government will not require proof of vaccination for the following:
- Retail businesses, including grocery stores.
- Places of worship.
- Fast-food restaurants offering takeout and delivery.
- Health-care services, professional services or personal services.
- Hotels or other lodging.
- Facilities hosting non-ticketed amateur sporting events, including youth athletics and recreational leagues.
- Business meetings and places of business closed to the general public, unless otherwise directed by the business or employer.
- Private gatherings held at an indoor public residence.
Children under the age of 12 are exempt from the requirements for a test or proof of vaccination.