Vaccines coming Monday for N.L. rotational workers, with open call expected by May 14
Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, as rotational workers are next in line to receive their first shots of vaccine.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said three of the province's four regional health authorities will deliver an open call Monday for workers — including air crew and truck drivers who travel outside the province — to book appointments. The fourth, Labrador-Grenfell Health, has already started vaccinating rotational workers.
"They're among the most frequent travellers by the nature of their work and we know that importation of the virus is our greatest risk," Fitzgerald said during Wednesday's live briefing.
"We anticipate that we will be able to issue an open call to the remainder of Phase 2 priority groups no later than May 14."
Fitzgerald said anyone who has been vaccinated is still required to adhere to public health measures, including self-isolation requirements.
"Being vaccinated with one dose protects you from severe illness as a result of COVID-19, and we are still evaluating the evidence on vaccines and transmission of COVID," she said.
"We still have a large portion of our population that is unvaccinated and unprotected. We must keep our risk of exposure low while we continue to build our population's immunity."
Watch the full April 21 update:
Nearly one-third of population vaccinated with at least 1 dose
Health Minister John Haggie said 31 per cent of Newfoundland and Labrador's eligible population had been vaccinated with at least one dose as of Tuesday night. He said 80 per cent of the vaccine supply that has been provided to the province has been delivered to the regions; the remainder of that, he added, is from this week's supply.
Haggie said there will be a dip in supply this week as the province expects only 14,000 doses from Pfizer-BioNTech.
"But in the weeks after that, our baseline will go up to well over 28,000, 30,000 per week, and we will continue to match those deliveries by ramping up the size, number and location of our vaccine clinics," he said.
Haggie said the province expects a significant boost to the vaccine supply near the end of May, and the province will then begin to ask physicians and pharmacists for help in administering doses.
Ontario and Alberta have lowered the minimum age to receive a dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to 40 instead of 55. Quebec has lowered the age to 45.
Fitzgerald said Newfoundland and Labrador is still waiting on recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
"We've always relied on NACI to provide our guidance and certainly we do take into account what their recommendations are in our vaccine program," she said.
"So we'll be waiting for that statement. When it comes out we'll make our decisions about what we're going to do."
1 new recovery
Wednesday's new case is a man in his 50s in the Eastern Health region, related to travel.
There is also a new recovery, leaving the province's active caseload at 27.
To date, 130,441 people have been tested, including 353 since Tuesday's update.
Fitzgerald said that while the case count has been creeping upward in the province, all recent new cases are related to travel or close contacts of previous cases.
"This is what we would expect to see, given the epidemiology of COVID-19 across the country right now," she said.
Meanwhile, in a media release on Wednesday Newfoundland and Labrador's Department of Health advised rotational workers about COVID-19 outbreaks at two worksites in Alberta:
- Cenovus Sunrise Lodge.
- CNOOC Long Lake Operations.
The Health Department said it was notified of the outbreaks by the Public Health Agency of Canada because residents of Newfoundland and Labrador work at those sites.
Rotational workers with these projects who have returned to N.L. in the last two weeks must self-isolate, distance themselves from household members and call 811 to arrange testing.
These workers also must complete the full 14-day self-isolation period, regardless of their test result.