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The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada sits ready for use in Toronto on Dec. 14, 2020. Saskatchewan says its first COVID-19 vaccinations will be given tonight in Regina. The government says an initial shipment of the Pfizer vaccine has arrived in the capital city.Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan administered its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday evening to health-care workers in Regina.

Dr. Tania Diener, the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s immunization lead and medical health officer, said the shots happened less than five hours after the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in the province.

Critical care physician Dr. Jeffrey Betcher was the first person to get a shot.

“If you’re unsure about having the vaccine, I think it’s really important that you reconsider,” he said after the needle went into his shoulder at the Regina General Hospital.

“It protects not only yourself, but also those around you.”

Seated across from him and dressed in scrubs, emergency room nurse Leah Sawatsky was vaccinated moments later.

“We’re seeing people whose quality of life is getting taken away everyday by COVID,” she said.

“It doesn’t discriminate age. So trust the science. It’s good for us.

“Get the vaccine.”

The first vaccinations in Canada happened Monday in Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City and are rolling out elsewhere across the country.

Saskatchewan said 1,950 health-care workers are to be immunized over the coming days as part of a pilot program that will test the province’s vaccine delivery and storage.

The workers include staff in intensive care units, emergency departments and COVID-19 units at the Regina General. Staff at Regina’s Pasqua Hospital, as well as workers at COVID-19 testing and assessment centres will also get the vaccine.

They are to receive a second dose in 21 days.

Health officials said the next stage of vaccinations will begin later this month. Those Injections are to go to the most vulnerable – more health-care workers, staff and residents in long-term care homes, seniors over 80, and people over 50 living in remote areas, including the province’s Far North.

Saskatchewan has said 202,052 doses are expected to arrive within the first quarter of next year, and there are to be 10,725 weekly allocations.

Officials don’t expect to begin vaccinating the general population until April, but timelines could change depending on how many doses become available.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday about 168,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, pending approval from Health Canada, are expected to arrive in the country by the end of the month.