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Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine at Pearson International Airport during the during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on April 28.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

The Saskatchewan government says it has received a limited supply of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which will be available to residents starting Wednesday.

The government said it has 2,500 doses to be administered through Saskatchewan Health Authority clinics to residents 18 and older.

“There may still be people who have been waiting for this vaccine to become available,” chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said Tuesday.

Shots will only be available on a walk-in basis because of the limited number of doses and potential demand.

Both Alberta and Saskatchewan had requested a supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the federal government. Alberta received 5,000 doses last week.

Saskatchewan has one of the lowest vaccination rates for COVID-19 in the country — about 81 per cent of those 12 and older are fully vaccinated. And the province said it hopes the one-dose shot will increase uptake.

Dr. Shahab said hundreds of people in Saskatchewan have already received the single-dose shot in the United States, but have been getting booster shots in the province.

Those who get the single-dose vaccine are considered fully vaccinated by the Saskatchewan government 14 days after their shot.

But they will be eligible for a booster two months following their vaccination and will have an mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech) available to them.

Since Saskatchewan introduced its vaccine passport in October, there has been a higher uptake in people getting their shots, said Dr. Shahab.

“We did hear from a few people they’d prefer getting the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That’s why we opted to obtain limited supplies,” he said.

Dr. Shahab said the province is willing to bring in a maximum of 10,000 Johnson & Johnson doses, depending on interest.

“It’s one more tool, an effective tool, in our battle against COVID-19,” said Premier Scott Moe.

With minimal public health measures other than a mask mandate and a vaccine passport policy, the province has heavily relied on vaccinations to decrease cases.

Mr. Moe said in the legislature that an uptick in vaccinations has led to the province’s cases “dropping down almost 80 per cent” since the peak of the fourth wave.

Nearly 200,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered since October when the province started requiring a proof of vaccine or negative test to get inside restaurants, theatres, bars, casinos and event and sporting venues, he said.

The province reported 85 new cases for a total of 1,112 active cases.

However, hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have continued to put a strain on hospitals. The province’s intensive care unit capacity has surged to 119 per cent over its baseline.

Nurses from the Canadian Armed Forces are to stay in Saskatchewan until further notice. The Saskatchewan Health Authority said it is also looking to bring in seven additional nurses from the Canadian Red Cross.

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