Phase 2 of Vaccine Delivery Plan Launches, Special Vaccination Leave Introduced
Today, the Government of Saskatchewan announced the launch of Phase 2 of the Vaccine Delivery Plan with the introduction of booking eligibility online and by phone for residents 67 years and older. Effective at 12:00 PM on Thursday, March 18, eligibility for the online and phone-in booking system is expanded to the 67 years and older age group and those considered clinically extremely vulnerable. Phase 2 also includes select congregate living settings such as group homes for persons with intellectual disabilities and emergency shelters. The expansion comes earlier than anticipated and is due to the rapid and successful rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations through the Saskatchewan Health Authority's vaccine booking system.
Anyone who is 67 years old as of March 18, 2021, can go online to book an appointment at www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19-vaccine. You will need a Saskatchewan health services card and an email or cell phone in order to receive notification reminders of the appointment. Those without email or cell phones can call 1-833-Sask-Vax (727-5829).
"The implementation of the online and telephone appointment booking system has enabled the rapid deployment of vaccinations across the province," Health Minister Paul Merriman said. "This move into Phase 2 is ahead of the anticipated schedule but with the vaccine and the ability to move forward swiftly we do not want to delay. This achievement is great news for our residents and our province as every vaccination delivered brings us one day closer to returning to normal."
While the eligibility categories have broadened into the Phase 2 recommendations, vaccinations and eligibility for individuals identified in Phase 1 will continue until completed. This includes completing all first and second doses for long-term care and personal care home residents and staff.
As more vaccine becomes available in the coming weeks, clinics will be expanding across the province.
Individuals who may be considered clinically extremely vulnerable will receive a letter with instructions for booking appointments. A complete list of clinically extremely vulnerable conditions is available at www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19.
"We continue to be a leader in Canada at getting vaccines into arms quickly and safely," Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone said. "Achieving this milestone ahead of schedule is a reminder for us to celebrate and thank the health care workers who are working long hours to make this possible."
Special Vaccination Leave Introduced
The Government of Saskatchewan has also amended The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 2020 to allow for paid time off from work for an employee to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and are effective immediately. Special Vaccination Leave is similar to provisions allowing residents to vote during a general election.
The new section 6-22.1, Special Vaccination Leave, establishes that during the pandemic:
- Workers are entitled to three consecutive hours leave during work hours to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
- Workers are entitled to more than three consecutive hours if the employer determines the circumstances warrant a longer break from work.
- Workers do not lose any pay or other benefits while receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.
"We want to ensure that everyone in the province gets vaccinated," Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan said. "The amendment today ensures workers also have paid time off during the work hours to receive the COVID-19 vaccine."
The new regulation comes into force on March 18, 2021.