NDP: Sask. Party delays and mixed messaging risks vaccine roll-out for kids under 12

REGINA - In light of the Sask. Party government’s announcement on the availability of vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 years old, the Official Opposition once again stressed the need for proactive planning to ensure high vaccination uptake and to shelve the rhetoric around vaccination for children and instead focus on clear targeted messaging to address vaccine hesitancy among eligible children and their families.

“We know that children under the age of 12 are currently the leading age group for new COVID infections. Let’s be clear, this is a great day, and I know many parents and health care professionals have been waiting for approval and availability for this age group of a COVID vaccine,” said Ryan Meili, Leader of the Official Opposition. “This government should be proactively working to get as many vaccinations out to newly eligible children. If you’re able to, go get your vaccine.” 

The Official Opposition called for a proactive plan to roll out vaccinations to eligible children back on October 18, to encourage the highest possible vaccination uptake once they are readily available. Many provincial jurisdictions in Canada are weeks ahead of Saskatchewan, with provinces like British Columbia who have pre-registered up to 21% of eligible children. Other provinces like Alberta and Manitoba have followed suit. Despite the need for the government to provide clear information on benefits of vaccinations for children, the Sask. Party has instead focused on rhetoric around forced vaccinations and has intervened to try to ensure unvaccinated children can attend a tournament against the advice of local medical health officers.

“The benefits of enacting a pre-registration program ahead of time, as other provincial governments have done, would have been to give the government an idea of potential vaccine uptake and which regions would benefit from a more targeted approach or information campaigns to ease potential hesitancy,” said Carla Beck, Opposition Education Critic. “Once again, we’re on the eve of these vaccines being readily available with a government that has slow-walked its plan and even contributed to further hesitancy with its rhetoric and most recent letter to school boards on extracurricular activities in schools regardless of active outbreaks.” 

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