REGINA - Today, Official Opposition Leader Ryan Meili was joined by Carolyn Brost Strom, a public health nurse from Prince Albert to discuss the intense stress and burnout to frontline health workers caused by short-staffing and the Premier’s failures to contain the fourth wave. Brost Strom joined the Sask. NDP in condemning the last-minute decision to no longer allow kids to be vaccinated in schools unless a parent is in attendance which risks reduced vaccine uptake and delays protection to kids now eligible for their vaccines.
“Health care workers have sacrificed everything for the last 2 years. We have sacrificed our own lives: our own relationships with our families and friends; our own marriages; our own health. We have sacrificed everything that means anything to us because it meant other people’s lives would be saved. We sacrificed everything, and we are tired,” said Brost Strom. “The extent of damage to us is beyond comprehension right now, and it is something that will need to be given care and attention for years to come. Please recognize the impact this pandemic has had on health care workers. We are not ok.”
Brost Strom also condemned the confusion caused by the province’s interference with planned in-school vaccinations in Prince Albert. On November 22, a letter from the Saskatchewan Health Authority was sent to all the parents and guardians of students in the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division (SRPSD) which included a Government of Saskatchewan consent form to allow students in grades 5 and 6 to be vaccinated at in-school vaccination clinics. The decision was quickly reversed over the weekend by the government through a revised SHA letter, with parents being notified at 3:34 PM yesterday that this option would no longer be provided and that parents needed to be present at their children’s vaccination appointment. This policy contradicts the government's original news release from October 26, which stated that “informed parental/guardian consent must be provided and will be documented in the child's immunization record.”
“Right now we need to be promoting vaccinations, especially COVID-19 vaccinations as the norm. While this government wants to celebrate the success of vaccines, they appear to be reluctant to do the work of quelling vaccine hesitancy,” said Brost Strom. “As a public health nurse, my job in the next few months is to get our children immunized against COVID-19, a now vaccine-preventable illness. Healthcare workers really need this government to not further contribute to vaccine hesitancy with the kind of anti-vax rhetoric we’ve been hearing from them lately.”
“Parents don’t need to be present for other vaccinations within their children’s schools such as measles or hepatitis B. Those vaccinations are considered standard practice and parents need only provide a consent form. The COVID-19 vaccine is no different,” said Meili. “The fact that this government is making that distinction feeds vaccination hesitancy. Actions speak louder than words -- this government continues to pander and feed into vaccine hesitancy for political purposes rather than focusing on the health and safety of the people of Saskatchewan.”