SASKATOON -- A field hospital established early in the coronavirus pandemic will be home to the city's first mass immunization site.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) initially set up the hospital at Merlis Belsher Place as a contingency in case the number of COVID-19 patients overwhelmed the city's hospitals— a scenario that has not played out.

Late last year the SHA tentatively began putting the facility to use to deliver vaccines.

"We have been using space on the second floor of Merlis Belsher Place to immunize health-care workers since late December," said Jennifer Cushon, Immunization Section Chief and Director, Primary Health Care.

“This expansion into the space created for the field hospital will allow us to move from seeing 456 people a day to at least 1,400 people a day, once we are running mass clinics at full capacity," Cushon said in an SHA news release.

Staff at the clinic are currently immunizing individuals who live in the community who are 70 and older, according to the SHA.

The immunization site at Merlis Belsher Place is by appointment only and at this point is only serving people who are eligible under Phase One of the province's vaccine rollout plan.

The appointments are made when the SHA contacts residents who are eligible.

“This is just one of the ways Saskatoon residents will be able to access the COVID-19 vaccine as they become eligible. As phase two opens in the spring, additional options will include drive-thru and satellite immunization clinics," Cushon said.

If the field hospital is required, the SHA said the mass immunization site would relocate, and that would be broadly communicated with the public.

The clinic could see at least 1,400 people a day once it is running at full capacity.

--More details to come.