SASKATOON -- After pleading with the provincial government, frontline school teachers will soon be eligible to receive a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The system to schedule vaccine appointments will open to residents 40 years and older, and priority employees on Friday, including school staff.

The head of the Saskatoon Teachers’ Association, John McGettigan said there are mixed feelings among school staff.

“It’s too late, but it’s not too little,” McGettigan told CTV News.

He said essential frontline educators have been asking for vaccinations since the start of the process and the fact that they are just now being vaccinated with about eight weeks left in the school year leaves many questions for teachers and other school staff.

“Right now this might be the hardest time of the pandemic to be a teacher and that three-week wait between vaccine and protection is worrisome,” he said.

There are about 30,000 school staff in the province according to McGettigan.

The province identified remaining frontline workers as teachers and educational staff, correctional staff, border security agents, police officers, firefighters and frontline healthcare workers employed by the Saskatchewan Health Authority or private employers, such as dentists, optometrists and chiropractors.

The president of the Regina Catholic Schools Teachers’ Association, Debbie Ward said "it’s about time," school staff are being prioritized.

She said with many of the 800 teachers in its association under 40, this is good news, but there’s still uncertainty.

Ward said the messaging isn’t clear whether or not Regina will have the necessary vaccines in time for Friday because the drive-thru supply was used up and the vaccination clinic is closed until May 2 as a result.

"Teachers need to feel safe and this is one way that they will make them safer even though they have to wait two weeks for the vaccine to be active, at least it’s a positive thing for them,” Ward said. 

Individuals eligible for priority vaccination need to provide proof of employment through a letter from their employer, a paystub no older than March 1, 2021 or a copy of their professional license, the provincial government said in a news release.

The province said the age range applies to all immunization clinics, including booked appointments, drive-thru, walk-in and mobile.

Appointments can only be made over the phone at 1-833-SaskVax (1-833-727-5829).