The Athabasca Health Authority in far north central Saskatchewan is hoping to get more people to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a letter posted on their Facebook page and signed by executive director of primary health care Derek Keller, the local health authority said so far they have administered 362 doses of the vaccine. Health officials have been working to inoculate front line health care workers, long term care residents and those over the age of 40.

The letter said there are 348 doses of the vaccine left and only 17 days left to get them into people’s arms. The letter went on to say while it is not mandatory for people to get the vaccine it is strongly recommended.

According to the health authority over the past two weeks five elders from communities in the basin have been admitted to hospital due to the COVID-19 virus. The letter also reminds residents in order for restrictions to be eased 60 to 70 per cent of the population needs to be vaccinated.

The health authority also said in the letter they have had issues with people agreeing to get the vaccine and then backing out, which they said has led to them wasting some vaccines.

“We don not want to waste any vaccine at all,” the letter said.

The area health authority is also reminding residents that it takes up to two weeks after getting the second dose of the vaccine for it to become fully effective. This comes on the heels of two people contracting COVID-19 after getting the first dose of the vaccine. This development has apparently led to misinformation making the rounds on social media about serious side effects. The letter explained any side effects are minor.

“The vaccine will cause some side effects, such as pain at the injection site, fatigue of headache,” the letter said.