'I can get turned away again?': Saskatoon man frustrated over lack of clarity at COVID-19 vaccine clinics
SASKATOON -- Saskatoon resident Clint Dahlen drove over an hour to Watrous for his appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine booked three weeks in advance - but learned he wasn’t eligible.
Dahlen, who is immunocompromised, was told when he arrived he would be getting the AstraZeneca vaccine, despite the fact he is too young.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has recommended an immediate pause in the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in those younger than 55.
The decision came after evidence of rare instances of vaccine-induced blood clots in Europe, with associated high case fatality and related serious outcomes.
Frustrated with the wasted trip, Dahlen said he tried to book a second appointment over the phone with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).
When asked if they could guarantee he would receive the Pfizer or Moderna shot, he said the SHA couldn’t.
“He said we don’t know until the day of, ‘so I can get turned away again?’ and he said yup,” said Dahlen, who works for CTV News.
Dahlen said the Saskatchewan Health Authority should be aware of what vaccines are available at clinics so people with appointments aren’t surprised or find out too late they are ineligible.
“I think it’s just ridiculous.”
According to the Ministry of Health, Dahlen was among 25,000 immunocompromised people who received letters outlining their eligibility for the vaccine.
SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said when appointments are booked over the phone or online, the individual’s medical history isn’t known, which is why on-site assessments are completed to make sure the right vaccine is administered.
“What we would do is have a conversation of the risks and benefits and we would work with them to book another appointment,” Livingstone said.
According to the SHA, additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were moved to the Regina area in response to the high number of variant COVID-19 cases.
Other areas, including Watrous, still had the vaccine on hand only appropriate for people 55 years and older, the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Local teams were then asked to review booked appointments in order to reschedule people who now didn’t meet this criteria, the SHA said in an email.
“This is a manual process. Unfortunately, some individuals were missed and showed up to their appointment before they received notification that it had been cancelled,” the SHA said.
Those who showed up to their appointment and were unable to receive a vaccine were rescheduled for the next available date, according to the SHA.