N.B. COVID-19 roundup: 0 new cases, 2 active cases
53.5% of eligible population fully vaccinated as vaccination pace slows
- Don't 'vaccine shop'
- Pfizer shipments to increase
- 1.3M Canadians mixed vaccines in June
- Province keeping AstraZeneca doses
- 1,500 vaccinated at pop-up clinics last week
- Hospital visitor changes for travellers
- 2 more recoveries, no one hospitalized
- Atlantic COVID roundup
New Brunswick reported no new cases of COVID-19 for the ninth straight day Wednesday, and the number of active cases has dropped to two.
Meanwhile 53.5 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 and older are now fully vaccinated.
The province is seeing the tide in the fight against COVID begin to turn, Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, told the COVID briefing.
Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said the province is making great progress on its path to the green phase of recovery, and it's "wonderful to see New Brunswickers enjoying somewhat closer to normal activities."
But variants remain a concern, she said, and people must continue to follow Public Health advice and get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The vaccination pace has slowed, pushing back one data cruncher's previous prediction of when the province will hit its double-dose vaccination target and lift all restrictions.
A total 10,468 second doses were administered on Tuesday.
The seven-day average for second doses has dropped to 9,870 from 10,269, said Oliver Dueck, a software developer based in Fredericton, who has been tracking the province's vaccine data for the past few months.
At this rate, it will take until July 29 to get two doses into the arms of 75 per cent of the eligible population, he said.
While that's still four days ahead of the province's target of Aug. 2, New Brunswick Day, numbers earlier this week had Dueck projecting the province would reach its goal July 27.
With the 1,242 first doses administered Tuesday, the one-dose vaccination rate edged up to 79.9 per cent.
Don't 'vaccine shop'
Russell advised against waiting to receive a certain brand of vaccine as a second dose, or what she called "vaccine shopping."
"Canada is one of the many places that has safely and effectively administered vaccines interchangeably, along with countries such as the U.K., Spain and Germany," she said.
"This strategy has allowed us to quickly vaccinate more people protecting us all from the imminent threat of COVID-19. Thanks to this approach, each week we are getting closer to green as our number of active cases continues to decline."
New Brunswick continues to follow the advice of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), which supports following the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine with an mRNA vaccine, either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, as well as mixing of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, based on whichever product is available, she said.
While the province has been receiving fewer doses of Pfizer than expected, it did receive 18,720 doses last week and is scheduled to receive 29,250 doses this week.
It is using Pfizer to vaccinate children aged 12 to 17, Russell said, as this is the only vaccine approved in Canada for this age group.
Next week, the province expects to receive its "full shipment" of 64,350 doses of Pfizer, with another 76,050 doses slated for the following week.
"We are not anticipating a shortage of this product and we will continue to offer it and Moderna at our vaccination clinics," Russell said.
She doesn't have any first-hand knowledge or data on people being hesitant to mix, or cancelling or switching their second-dose appointments, she told reporters. "But certainly anything that reassures people at this point in time is helpful."
1.3M Canadians mixed vaccines in June
At least 1.3 million Canadians opted to mix COVID-19 vaccines by the end of June, Health Canada data shows.
Of the 6.5 million people who got their second shot between May 31 and June 26, one in five got a different vaccine than their first.
Some provinces began mixing Pfizer and Moderna as early as April, but the practice became more common in the third week of June when Pfizer shipments were delayed.
Early June was when NACI said people who received AstraZeneca as their first dose could safely get Pfizer or Moderna as their second dose and by mid-June the advisory body said that was the "preferred" option. An mRNA vaccine as a second dose mitigates the rare risk of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) — a rare condition that causes blood clots combined with low platelets, NACI said.
Two New Brunswickers have died from VITT after getting the AstraZeneca vaccine. Two others also suffered blood clots following vaccination, but recovered.
Province keeping AstraZeneca doses
Canada is donating 17.7 million doses of AstraZeneca to help inoculate people in low- and middle-income countries, federal ministers announced Monday.
But New Brunswick is holding onto the roughly 10,000 doses it has in stock, which are set to expire at the end of August, and approximately 200 more due to expire at the end of October, said Russell.
The province wants to continue to offer AstraZeneca if people choose it or if they need it because of allergies or other reactions to the mRNA vaccines, she said.
AstraZeneca is more portable than the mRNA vaccines because it doesn't require the same cold storage, added Shephard. She said it's an easier vaccine to work with for residents in long-term care, for example.
Nearly 1,000 doses of the province's supply of AstraZeneca had to be destroyed because they expired July 1, before they could be used here or elsewhere.
Shephard said it's unfortunate they were wasted. "But when when you look at the fact that we're going to be reaching 900,000 doses [of COVID vaccines] delivered, I think we've been very prudent with our inventory," she said.
Public Health is holding more mobile walk-in Moderna clinics this week to help make getting first and second doses more convenient.
Shephard said the pop-up clinics are helping the province's efforts. Five were held last week, and of the 1,500 people who were vaccinated, 20 per cent received their first dose.
She visited the clinic held Tuesday in Saint John's north end at the Nick Nicole Centre and "many" of the estimated 100 people who attended were there for first doses, she said.
"Anecdotally I can say that in speaking with a few of the people who came, they wouldn't have come if it hadn't been in their community," she said. "Many were newcomers. And so there's a trust factor that putting a pop-up clinic in their community really helps to bridge those worries."
The clinics include:
- Perth-Andover — River Valley Civic Centre, 11 School St., on Thursday, between noon and 6 p.m.
- Dorchester — Dorchester Veterans Community Hall, 4955 Main St., on Thursday, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Plaster Rock — Tobique Lions Community Centre, 61 Everett Lane., on Friday, between 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Salisbury — Salisbury Baptist Church, 3128 Main St., on Friday, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Anyone 12 or older is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and anyone who has received a first dose can get a second dose after 28 days. They don't have to wait for the 28 days to pass to schedule their appointment, Russell stressed.
They are asked to bring their Medicare card, a signed consent form and, for those receiving a second dose, a copy of the record of immunization they received after getting their first dose.
People who booked an appointment but were able to get vaccinated sooner elsewhere are asked to cancel the appointment they no longer need.
Hospital visitor changes for travellers
New Brunswick hospitals and health-care facilities will open up to visitors from outside the extended Atlantic region Thursday, the Horizon and Vitalité health networks announced in a joint news release.
The updated visitor guidelines are based on where people are travelling from and whether they've been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Before entering, Canadian and international visitors who wish to visit a patient must:
- Provide proof of vaccination with two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, and it must be at least 14 days after they received their second dose.
- Provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test after entering the province and prior to each visit, and agree to be tested again on Days five and 10.
- Provide proof of approval to travel to New Brunswick through the New Brunswick Travel Registration Program.
- Provide personal identification that matches their immunization record and travel registration.
- Follow New Brunswick Public Health measures and infection prevention and control policies, such as monitoring themselves for COVID-19 symptoms before each visit, wearing a mask at all times, maintaining physical distancing and cleaning their hands frequently.
International travellers are also subject to federal requirements to enter Canada, and where provincial and federal requirements differ, the most stringent requirements must be followed, the news release states.
People who can't provide proof they're fully vaccinated may still visit a patient, but only 14 days after they've entered the province. No testing will be required, but they must be asymptomatic and follow all guidelines.
The extended Atlantic region includes: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Avignon and Témiscouata regions of Quebec and Listuguj First Nation in Quebec.
The changes are based on the recommendations of the infectious disease/infection prevention and control teams at the two regional health authorities, according to the news release.
If there's an increase in cases within the extended Atlantic region, anyone visiting from what is considered a higher risk area will have to follow most of the same conditions, it said.
All visitors will continue to be subject to active screening prior to entering a facility. Daily visitation continues to be between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
2 more recoveries, no one hospitalized
Two more people have recovered from COVID-19, Public Health announced Wednesday.
No one is hospitalized in the province with the respiratory disease.
On Tuesday, 693 COVID-19 tests were conducted, putting the total to date at 370,735.
There have been 2,336 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick since the pandemic started, with 2,287 recoveries so far and 46 COVID-related deaths.
Atlantic COVID roundup
Nova Scotia reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, and has 28 active cases.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases and has 23 active cases, 22 of which are from international vessels.
Prince Edward Island has no new cases and no active cases.
What to do if you have a symptom
People concerned they might have COVID-19 can take a self-assessment test online.
Public Health says symptoms of the illness have included a fever above 38 C, a new or worsening cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, a new onset of fatigue, and difficulty breathing.
In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.
People with one of those symptoms should stay at home, call Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor, and follow instructions.
With files from The Canadian Press