PRINCE ALBERT -- A local chief is questioning why the province has yet to send vaccines to Northern Saskatchewan communities with growing COVID-19 outbreaks.

In the past two days, the Northern Inter-tribal Health Authority (NITHA) has declared outbreaks in La Ronge and Stanley Mission.

Chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, Tammy Cook-Searson, wants the COVID-19 vaccine sent to these areas.

“Out of our six communities, two of our communities are declared outbreaks,” Cook-Searson said.

Nearly 5,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived in Saskatchewan on New Years Eve. Half of those doses have been sent to northern communities with the “highest attack rates in the province,” according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

The first Moderna vaccinations were administered in Île-à-la-Crosse to registered nurse, Brittany Favel, and her grandfather, Jimmy Favel, who is a resident of a long-term care home.

“I want to know how many number of the vaccines for these regions where arrive at. What's the reason or how they decide to leave out the far north east. And then we asked to see data for attack rates in both zones,” Cook-Searson said.

Tammy Cook-Searson

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health said it’s following guidelines provided by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization to determine vaccine prioritization

The far north east zone has 136 active cases, according to the NITHA. The zone accounts for the majority of active cases in northern Saskatchewan.

“We hope that we will get more vaccines in order to allot them to other communities that are also in need, particularly the ones in the far north east,” said Dr. Ndubuka, medical health officer of the NITHA.

“We are also calling on our community residents to embrace the COVID vaccine. It is safe and it can save lives.”

Northern First Nation chiefs, including Cook-Searson, are pushing for a meeting with the province to learn more about the vaccine rollout.

Cook-Searson says she’s hopeful the meeting will occur this week.