Experts urge young people to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as Sask. age eligibility drops
SASKATOON -- As the age eligibility to receive a COVID-19 vaccine continues to lower in Saskatchewan, experts are urging young people to get the shot when it’s their turn.
“COVID is dangerous to people of all ages, including our youth,” Premier Scott Moe said during a COVID-19 update on Tuesday.
“Some young people may be thinking that they don’t need to be vaccinated, but you do.”
Right now, people 26 years of age and older are eligible to get their COVID-19 shot, and as that age continues to drop, some people in Saskatoon say they’re ready to roll up their sleeves.
“Just helping everybody, like my mom already got one, grandma got one, so might as well,” said Tullaye Tsongwande, who is 26 years old.
Yash Patel, 20, said he plans on getting the vaccine as soon as he is eligible.
“We are just taking precautions to be safe against the COVID virus. If you’re not taking vaccine, we’re harming ourselves and others too,” he said.
It’s a move epidemiologist Nazeem Muhajarine said is critical, especially as more young people get infected with variants of concern.
He said while many people 40 and older have gotten vaccinated so far, it still isn’t enough to reach herd immunity or collective protection against COVID-19.
“We need to get as many people, eight out of 10 people who are 12 and above, a vaccine dose and hopefully two doses,” he said.
Muhajarine said a lot of young people are more eager to get vaccinated because they have been hard hit by the pandemic.
“They have lost opportunities to work, they have been laid off, their hours have been cut back, they haven’t been able to socialize in the way they would like to.”
Muhajarine said the province’s three-step reopening plan, which is dependent on vaccine rollout, can also work as an incentive for young people who are hesitant about getting the shot.
Step Three of that plan will begin after 70 per cent of people over 18 have received their first dose.
He adds that while it’s good to see the age eligibility dropping quickly, accessibility is also crucial.
“It’s quite important that we get the vaccines into people’s arms, and we have the supply, and we have the capacity and we are organized well enough going to pharmacies, walk-in clinics, mobile clinics, and so on.”
Tasnim Jaisee, president of the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union (USSU), echoes the importance of young people getting vaccinated, adding that it can help things get back to normal on campus.
“So many students are looking forward to being able to return on campus in the fall, and they do want to be as safe as possible when we do return, and that includes being vaccinated,” Jaisee told CTV News.
“A lot of people are excited about getting vaccinated and just hearing about news about more openings and lesser social distancing once it is safe to do so. So, there’s a lot of optimism in the air.”
The age eligibility for the vaccine will move to 23 years of age and older on Friday and 20 and up on Sunday.
Premier Scott Moe reiterates that people who are working can take up to three hours off of work to get vaccinated.