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Nova Scotia expects to start COVID-19 vaccinations for high-risk groups in January

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia provides plan on COVID-19 vaccine' Nova Scotia provides plan on COVID-19 vaccine
WATCH: The Nova Scotia government has extended public health restrictions in Halifax as new case numbers remain in the double digits. It's also providing new details on how the COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed next year. Elizabeth McSheffrey reports. – Dec 4, 2020

While the batches will be small, Nova Scotia’s health officials have confirmed that doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive this month.

The province said select public immunization should begin in January, starting with those most at risk, including long-term care residents and staff, front-line health care workers, and the elderly.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said in a provincial update on Friday that he doesn’t know how much vaccine the province will get.

“We’ve got estimates of probably enough vaccine in…the initial allotments to do 75,000 people, but those no guarantee on those amounts,” he explained. “We’re also working with our risk groups to put together what are the number of people in those risk groups.”

Read more: Nova Scotia reports 15 new COVID-19 cases Friday, updates asymptomatic testing

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Public Health will focus on the mass immunization plan a little further down the road, he added, in consultation with pharmacies, nurses, doctors and front-line workers who may take part in the distribution and immunization of individuals.

“We’re going to have to work very closely across the health system to match up the amount of vaccine and the requirements for storage and handling, and where the vaccine can be administered, along with our priority groups.”

The first vaccine coming to Canada is expected to be the Pfizer vaccine. Ottawa indicated on Thursday it is expecting approval through Health Canada as early as next week.

All provinces are expected to have their first vaccination reception sites ready by Dec. 14.

Read more: Pfizer cuts COVID-19 vaccine delivery by half for 2020 due to supply chain issues

Strang said after the initial “very small” amount delivered in December, the province expects to receive small amounts weekly starting in January.

One of Nova Scotia’s top priorities now is preparing ultra-low temperature freezers needed to store the vaccine.

The federal government is providing one to each province, and Premier Stephen McNeil said more are being sourced and procured from the private sector.

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“I want to thank everyone who’s been working very hard to ensure not only do we have the supply to deliver quite frankly the vaccine when it arrives, but the equipment to store it,” McNeil said.

“We are in a great position to be able to receive not only the Pfizer vaccine, but vaccines as they become available and come online.”

Nova Scotia’s expectations, Strang said, are the same as Ottawa’s: to vaccinate everyone who wants to be vaccinated in 2021.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Nova scotia announces COVID-19 testing strategy for rotational workers' Coronavirus: Nova scotia announces COVID-19 testing strategy for rotational workers
Coronavirus: Nova scotia announces COVID-19 testing strategy for rotational workers – Dec 4, 2020

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