Nova Scotia reveals details of AstraZeneca vaccine rollout; 5 new cases announced
5 previously reported cases have now been confirmed to be COVID-19 variants
Nova Scotia unveiled its plans to deliver the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine on Tuesday, as the province reported five new cases of COVID-19 and newly confirmed variant cases.
The province's number of active cases is now 26, with one person in hospital in intensive care.
Three of the five new cases are in the central health zone, and the other two are in the western zone. All new cases are close contacts of previously reported cases, the province said in a news release.
Meanwhile, five previously reported COVID-19 cases have been newly confirmed by the National Microbiology Lab to be variants, including three of the variant first found in the U.K. and two of the variant first found in South Africa. All five were reported in the central zone.
The three U.K. variant cases, as well as one of the South Africa variant cases, are linked to other known cases or international travel.
But the other case of the South Africa variant does not have an identified link to a previously reported variant case or travel.
That person was tested earlier this month and the case is now considered resolved. None of the person's close contacts have received positive tests, but the investigation into the source of infection is continuing.
The province said there is no sign of community spread of the variants of COVID-19.
The total number of Nova Scotia cases involving the variant first reported in the U.K. now stands at 11, while the number of cases of the variant first reported in South Africa is eight.
New exposure on WestJet flight
Late Tuesday, Nova Scotia Health issued a potential exposure notice on a WestJet flight earlier this month.
Anyone who was on the following flight in the specified rows and seats should book a COVID-19 test on the self-assessment website or contact 811, regardless of whether they have COVID-19 symptoms.
- West Jet Flight 3346 departing from Toronto on March 8 (8:49 a.m.) and arriving in Halifax (12:32 p.m.), passengers in rows 5-11, seats A, B, and C. Anyone exposed may develop symptoms through March 22.
AstraZeneca vaccine rollout details
Last week, Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, announced the AstraZeneca vaccine would be available to those aged 50 to 64.
But further refinements of that plan were announced Tuesday, as the initial window of eligibility is reduced to those who are 63 and 64 years old. People in that age group will be offered the AstraZeneca vaccine beginning on March 20.
Starting March 16, those who are eligible can book appointments online or call 1-833-797-7772.
The following pharmacies will offer the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine:
- Shoppers Drug Mart, 766 Sackville Dr., Lower Sackville.
- Kyte's Pharmacy, 920 Cole Harbour Rd., Dartmouth.
- Lawton's Drug Store, 8003 #7 Hwy., Musquodoboit Harbour.
- Sobeys Pharmacy, 110 Warwick St., Digby.
- Guardian - Hutchins Pharmacy, 310 St. George St., Annapolis Royal.
- Walmart Pharmacy, 1065 Central Ave., Greenwood.
- Stones Drug Store, 491 Chebucto St., Baddeck.
- Freeman's Pharmacy, 15786 Central Ave., Inverness.
- Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy, 288 Welton St., Sydney.
- Amherst Pharmasave, 158 Robert Angus Dr., Amherst.
- Pictou Pharmasave, 33 Water St., Pictou.
- Guardian - Elmsdale Pharmacy, 269 Hwy. 214, Elmsdale.
- Drug Store Pharmacy (located in Atlantic Superstore), 394 Westville Rd., New Glasgow.
The following family physician clinics will offer the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine:
- Geriatrics in Motion, 65 Prestwick Cl., Halifax.
- Woodlawn Medical Centre, 92 Main St., Dartmouth.
- Dalhousie Family Medicine (Spryfield location), 16 Dentith Rd., Halifax.
- Dalhousie Family Medicine (Mumford location), 265-6960 Mumford Rd., Halifax.
- Berwick Family Practice, 121 Orchard St., Berwick.
- Queens General Hospital, 175 School St., Liverpool.
- Harvest Tides Family Practice, 70 Exhibition St., New Minas.
- Middleton Collaborative Practice, 452 Main St., Middleton.
- Colchester Research Group/ Truro Walk-In Clinic, 68 Robie St., Truro.
- Mediplex: Medical Complex and Clinics, 40 Church St., Antigonish.
- Island Family Health Care, 308-45 Weatherbee Rd., Sydney.
- Northside Family Collaborative, 116 King St., North Sydney.
Strang said Tuesday public health staff learned from last week's rollout of vaccines to those who are 80 and older, when phone lines and online booking systems were overwhelmed as Nova Scotians attempted to book appointments.
The province then narrowed the initial window of eligibility for those 80 and older to people whose birthday falls between January and April. About 6,000 people booked appointments Monday.
Those lessons are now being applied to the AstraZeneca rollout. Strang said with 200,000 people in the province aged 50 to 64, and only 13,000 initial doses, it made sense to restrict access at the beginning.
The vaccine is first being offered to those ages 63 and 64. They will get appointments for both their first and second doses, 16 weeks apart.
As the demand in that age group dwindles and as more doses are delivered, vaccines will be offered to the next-oldest age group, working backward toward age 50.
"It will require patience," Strang said. "This doesn't happen overnight. It will take several months to do this.… For all Nova Scotians, your turn to get vaccine is coming."
Nova Scotia's initial portion of the AstraZeneca vaccine must be used before April 2, but Strang said more doses are expected later this month and in April.
The province also announced it is expecting 38,000 extra doses of Pfizer-BioNtech in the last two weeks of March.
Prototype pharmacy clinics open
Two prototype vaccine clinics opened on Tuesday through pharmacies in Spryfield and Shelburne, offering vaccines to those who are 80 and older.
The Pharmacy Association is asking people not to line up at pharmacies and not to call to get an appointment.
"All booking will happen online," said Allison Bodnar, the CEO of the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia. "Pharmacies cannot book patients. And so we encourage people not to call the pharmacy because there's nothing that they're going to be able to do to book these patients in."
Bodnar said there are 312 pharmacies in the province and by the time the rollout is in full swing, almost 300 of them will be offering vaccinations.
Atlantic Bubble 2.0
During a news conference on Tuesday, Premier Iain Rankin said both he and Strang have been discussing with their counterparts in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island whether a new Atlantic bubble could be feasible. The bubble would allow easier flow of residents between the three province if their case numbers remain low.
Rankin said he has a meeting next week to further discuss that possibility.
"All three provinces are doing well, but I think given that we've always used the cautious approach, it's worked for us over the last several months, so we're going to continue to take that approach."
He said he is not currently contemplating Newfoundland and Labrador's participation in any potential bubble.
Test and vaccination numbers
Nova Scotia's COVID-19 testing laboratories processed 2,841 tests on Monday.
As of Monday, 40,231 doses of vaccines have been given, and of those, 14,542 people have received a second dose.
Atlantic Canada case numbers
- New Brunswick reported one new case on Tuesday for a total of 35 known active cases. Three people are in hospital related to COVID-19, including two in intensive care.
- Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case on Tuesday. The province has 80 known active cases, and three people are in hospital, all in intensive care.
- P.E.I. reported no new cases on Tuesday. There are 28 known active cases on the Island — the most since the pandemic started.
With files from Shaina Luck