Vial with label that says COVID-19 vaccineWhile CUPE is pleased that the Saskatchewan government has finally decided to prioritize remaining health care workers in the vaccination delivery sequencing, more needs to be done to remove barriers to access.

“Accessing the vaccine has been complicated and plagued with administrative delays. Members have to wait to receive a letter from their manager, and then call a 1-800 number to book an appointment. Every other person in the province can register online or go to a drive thru location,” said Sandra Seitz, President of CUPE 5430. “Why do we need to wait for a letter for health care workers?  How about a current Saskatchewan Health Authority or affiliate identification instead?”

“We should be rolling out vaccinations in workplaces and ensuring members have paid time off to receive both doses of the vaccine,” added Seitz.

Seitz, a resident of Weyburn, is also concerned about the access to the vaccine in rural Saskatchewan. “We would like to see access to vaccine clinics improved in rural areas. In many cases clinics are booking three weeks in advance and may require members to travel, sometimes up to an hour,” said Seitz.

CUPE has thousands of members who work directly with COVID positive patients who have not had the opportunity to receive their vaccination. These members include environmental service workers, porters, unit clerks, medical technicians and technologists, amongst others – all of whom have been working hard throughout this pandemic.

“CUPE has been vocal on expanding access to vaccine delivery for all health care workers who want to be immunized,” said Seitz. “We encourage the government to ensure that all health care workers who are on the frontlines be provided the opportunity to be vaccinated.  That is, all health care workers who have interaction with clients, residents or patients in any setting, for any amount of time.”

CUPE 5430 represents over 14,000 health care workers across Saskatchewan.