Saskatchewan's Opposition NDP is calling on the provincial government to expand the eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots to all residents 18 and older.
"Especially as we see the omicron variant spreading throughout Canada … we need to make sure we've got a plan to make that fifth wave as minimal as possible," said NDP Leader Ryan Meili at a news conference on Friday morning.
The Opposition's call came alongside new guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on who should get a booster shot.
In a new report issued Friday, the committee is now strongly recommending all Canadians over the age of 50, along with other vulnerable groups like health-care workers, Indigenous peoples and those living in congregate care settings, get a third dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
NACI is also now recommending the younger cohort — Canadians aged 18 to 49 — get a third mRNA shot at least six months after their second dose.
Earlier this week, Saskatchewan Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said eligibility could open up for more people in the province in the coming days and weeks.
Currently, people 65 and older provincewide or 50 and older in the northern half of the province are eligible to receive a booster dose, as are health-care workers and people with compromised immune systems.
Shahab said most people are just reaching the point where they are six months past their second dose.
The Saskatchewan government is expected to announce an update on its booster plan next week, a health ministry spokesperson told CBC News.
Several provinces and territories have expanded third dose eligibility, including Manitoba, Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Ontarians 50 and older who got their second dose at least six months ago can book their third shot in mid-December.
Alberta says it anticipates third shot bookings for all adults will be open by early next year.
Nazeem Muhajarine, a University of Saskatchewan epidemiologist, said giving Canadians 18 and older a third shot at this point in time is a "tradeoff."
"The downside is this: that we will not have enough doses, probably, that we should be sending to countries where vaccine uptake is a whole lot lower than in Canada," he said.
Muhajarine said the whole world needs to have sufficient vaccine uptake so variants don't emerge.