Province to begin COVID-19 vaccinations for long-term care residents Monday
Cape Breton health-care workers also to be vaccinated
The province will begin to vaccinate long-term care residents for COVID-19 on Monday.
In Friday's news conference, Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said residents of Northwood's Halifax and Bedford locations will be immunized next week.
Strang said the time frame for beginning long-term care immunization has been sped up after working closely with Northwood.
"Everybody is understanding the urgency of this," Strang said at the news conference. "So it's good news."
He said the province is also working with Shannex's Parkstone location and Ocean View Continuing Care Centre in Dartmouth to begin vaccinating staff and residents in the days to come.
The first doses of the vaccine to be administered in the eastern health zone will also be given out on Monday at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.
This will be the first time clinics outside of Halifax have administered the vaccine, Strang said.
Nova Scotia received 3,900 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, which are being sent to Cape Breton and the Valley Regional hospitals.
Strang said he anticipates two more shipments next week — 5,580 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and another 3,700 of the Moderna vaccine.
Some of the Pfizer-BioNTech will go to Colchester East Hants Health Centre for a clinic to immunize health-care workers in that area and some will go to Cape Breton.
By the end of next week, Strang said the province will have received 23,000 doses — enough to immunize 11,500 Nova Scotians. There were 2,720 vaccines administered between Dec. 16 and Jan. 2.
First phase of vaccination
On Tuesday, the province outlined its plans to vaccinate three-quarters of Nova Scotians against COVID-19 by the end of September.
The first phase aims to vaccinate all staff and residents in long-term and residential care, adults above the age of 75 and health-care staff who work directly in patient care.
Strang said on Friday that there is a limited supply of the vaccine until May. At that point, he said they will be able to shift to community immunization.
But he said they have been "literally flooded with requests" about prioritization for the vaccine.
"I want to ensure everyone that we know who the highest-risk groups are and we're making decisions with that risk in mind. You don't need to reach out to us," Strang said.
"The fact of the matter is responding to these requests is taking us away from the work we need to focus on, which is developing the program and getting the COVID vaccine out to communities."
Strang also said he hopes to have everyone who wants a vaccine immunized by the end of September.
"I know this seems a long way away, but it will move fast. We will get to you," he said.
Strang said the discussions need to start now about how best to distribute the vaccine in May. He said he met with regulated health professionals about this on Thursday, calling it a very productive first discussion.
The vaccines must be shipped frozen, in specific containers with ice packs. Strang said a few trials were done to make sure it was packaged the right way to maintain the temperature.
He also said that when it came to the clinics for health-care professionals in Halifax, they met the daily maximum target of 400 doses per day.
"Every day there was a roster of people who were up next to get vaccinated. And if some of those people weren't available for some reason, we went down the list further," he said.
"We're not going to have vaccines or vaccinators sitting around inactive."