N.S. to open booster shot appointments Monday to those aged 30 and up
Province reports 511 new cases Thursday; 25 people are in hospital, including 3 in ICU
Nova Scotia will open eligibility for booster shots to those aged 30 and up beginning Monday.
Premier Tim Houston said a couple of hundred thousand slots will open Monday for shots that will be delivered at pharmacies and community clinics.
The Halifax Forum will become a community vaccine clinic beginning Jan. 6, and appointments for that location will be available for booking early next week.
In the northern, eastern and western zones, clinics that serve as both testing and vaccine clinics will be opened at primary assessment centres by mid-January. The testing and vaccine appointments will be at different times of the day.
Drop-in mobile clinics will also be used in some locations.
"From the second we heard that the supply was coming, the team dropped everything and focused everything on rebooting the system to get as many doses as possible into arms as soon as possible," Houston said.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang encouraged anyone 30 and up to book a Moderna shot, called Spikevax, if possible, saying the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, called Comirnaty, will be prioritized for those under 30.
Shipments of Comirnaty are expected to be limited due to global shortages, Strang said, adding that some studies are showing that Spikevax is slightly more effective than Comirnaty as a booster shot.
People receiving boosters must wait at least 168 days after their primary series before being eligible.
Houston said the province needs people to help with the rollout, and asked for retired nurses, doctors and anyone with experience immunizing to come forward to help.
Strang echoed that call, adding that help will also be needed for non-medical roles at vaccine clinics.
The province announced 511 new cases Thursday. Twenty-five people are in hospital with the virus, including three in intensive care.
There are 331 new cases in the central zone, 65 in the western zone, 59 cases in the northern zone and 56 cases in the eastern zone.
The province estimates there are now 5,106 active cases.
Updated masking recommendations
Public Health is now recommending the general population use properly fitted, three-layer masks, whether non-medical or cloth, or a properly fitted medical mask.
Strang said having it fit properly is crucial, and that masks should cover the nose, mouth and chin, and have no gaps between the mask and skin.
He encouraged people to adjust the earloops or ties and the nosepiece to ensure a snug fit.
Pictou Landing First Nation outbreak
A COVID-19 outbreak at Pictou Landing First Nation has resulted in 37 reported cases since Dec. 21.
Chief Andrea Paul said the virus has swept through multi-generational households — and, in several cases, the entire family has gotten sick.
"Since the pandemic began one of my biggest fears is being hit with COVID, just because I know in our community — we have about 450 people on reserve — we're so small that I knew once we received a case, it would spread quite quickly."
The community shuttered its gas bar and convenience store after several exposures were reported there.
The band office, the health centre and other services have been shut down to curb spread, Paul said.
She said the community has received great support from other First Nations communities and Public Health throughout the pandemic and during the outbreak, including calls from Strang.
There have been some recoveries, but Paul said she's concerned about the elders in the community, although she noted most are fully vaccinated.
Hospital, long-term care outbreaks
The province reported new outbreaks in long-term care facilities and hospitals.
Five staff members and one resident have tested positive at the Kings Regional Rehabilitation Centre in Waterville, four staff and one resident have tested positive at Melville Gardens in Halifax, four staff have tested positive at Sagewood Continuing Care Facility in Lower Sackville and two residents have tested positive at New Vision in South Berwick, with one in hospital.
A new case has been reported at Parkstone Enhanced Care in Halifax, where a total of two residents and three staff have tested positive and three more cases have been identified at a ward at the Halifax Infirmary site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre, for a total of nine cases at that site.
Outbreaks have also occurred at the Victoria General site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre and at New Waterford Heights, with fewer than five patients affected at each site.
Atlantic Canada case numbers
- New Brunswick reported 572 new cases and two deaths Thursday. There are 40 people in hospital, including 16 in intensive care.
- Newfoundland and Labrador reported 349 new cases Thursday. There are now 1,428 active cases in the province. There is one person in hospital.
- Prince Edward Island reported 169 new cases Thursday, with eight people in hospital. There are 680 active cases.