New Brunswick makes changes to COVID-19 vaccine rollout

New Brunswick – In a live press briefing from Fredericton, today, Thursday, Feb. 18, Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, Dorothy Shephard, minister of health, and Greg MacCallum, director of the emergency measures organization, updated residents on changes to the vaccine rollout in the province.

“So, with the new variants of COVID-19 being more transmissible, it is really important that we make sure we have out vaccine campaign underway,” said Russell.

“We really have to make sure that our citizens in New Brunswick that are the more at risk receive protection against the virus.  So, we must broaden the scope of our vaccine campaign,” she added.

Under the new plan, there will purposely be a longer period of time planned between the first and second doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, from 14 to up to 90 days, particularly for those deemed less “at risk”.

Russell said this is an “acceptable and manageable” option, and the single dose of either vaccine still provides up to 90 per cent protection from the virus. She said by stretching the second dose timing out to this three month level, the number of people who can receive a single dose and have some protection will greatly increase, “maximizing the vulnerable getting the vaccine”.

Shepard announced new prioritization protocols for who will be next in line to receive at least the first dose of the vaccine.

The vaccination rollout in New Brunswick began in December, and focused on immunizing the most vulnerable, including long-term care residents and staff, frontline health-care staff, First Nations adults, and individuals 85-years-old and over. Phase 1, which is currently underway, has seen just over 21,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, and 7,505 individuals are fully vaccinated.

April 2021 will see the start of Phase 2 of the plan, adding new vulnerable groups to those being vaccinated, including:

  • residents and staff in other communal settings;
  • health-care workers providing direct patient care such as pharmacists and dentists;

first responders such as firefighters and police officers;

  • home support workers for seniors;
  • individuals 70 and over;
  • individuals with select complex medical conditions;
  • volunteers at long-term care centres and designated support people;
  • individuals 40 and over with three or more select chronic conditions; and
  • truckers, rotational workers and regular cross-border work commuters.

Phase 3, starting in June, will expand to groups including:

  • health-care workers with indirect patient care;
  • people with two or more select chronic health conditions;
  • school staff; and
  • students between the ages of 16 and 24.

Phase 4, which is expected to begin in July, will see the vaccine be more widely available, ideally for all New Brunswickers.

Shephard said residents do not need to call 811 or reach out to their medical provider (those who have one), that the province will contact each individual as they become eligible.

MacCallum said between April and June, New Brunswick has been told by the federal government to expect approximately 500,000 doses to arrive in the province, hence by early July, Public Health hopes to see half of the population of the province vaccinated with at least one dose.

Russell also announced Zone 4, the Edmundston region, will shift back to the Orange phase of recovery.

New cases

The four cases, all in Zone 4 are:

  • an individual 19 and under;
  • two people 60-69; and
  • an individual 80-89.

As of today, New Brunswick has seen 1,411 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and as of Wednesday, Feb. 17, 1,275 individuals have recovered. There are currently 111 active cases, five people are hospitalized with one in intensive care, and there are been 24 deaths. As of Wednesday, 220,912 have been conducted, or 28.44 per cent of the population.

For details on COVID-19 in New Brunswick, or to check the COVID-19 dashboard, go to www.gnb.ca/coronavirus

editor@stcroixcourier.ca