Saskatchewan First Nations will soon get dedicated COVID-19 vaccination allotments.

A memorandum of understanding was signed earlier this week between the province, Indigenous Services and the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority.

Under the agreement First Nations will get 14 percent of the weekly allocations, which will be provided to Indigenous Services. An additional 20 percent of doses will be given to allow for off-reserve populations who may return to be vaccinated.

“We’re happy to hear that our members will have access to the vaccine,” said Meadow Lake Tribal Council Tribal Chief Richard Ben.  “The COVID-19 variants are on the rise in Saskatchewan and have become a huge concern for our First Nation communities.  This will help ease some of the worries that our members currently face.”

Indigenous Services and NITHA are expected to follow current sequencing and have their own booking system and distribution to on-reserve populations.

“First Nations are in the highest risk category for the COVID-19 virus and our vaccinations should be top priority,” explained Prince Albert Grand Council Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte.

The agreement takes effect April 5 and is for one year.