Nova Scotia says it’s still on track with its coronavirus vaccination rollout as it releases an updated plan on Wednesday.
The province has administered around 16,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and nearly 3,500 Nova Scotians have received their second dose to date.
With a countrywide delay in new vaccine shipments last week, some questioned whether the province would be able to stay on track with its immunization plan.
In a Wednesday provincial briefing, health officials assured Nova Scotians that the province’s rollout plan is flexible.
“We are prepared to ramp up or ramp down based on our vaccine supply,” said chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang.
While the province received no vaccine last week, it is scheduled to receive 1,950 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 4,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine later this week.
Strang says the province is still on target to vaccinate Nova Scotians by the end of September.
The province now has 10 cold storage sites from which eight clinics across the province receive the vaccines on a rotational basis, until the province gets a steady stream of shipments.
Due to a current limited supply of the vaccine, the vaccine is currently being offered to the following groups:
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- those working directly with patients in hospitals or patients in their home
- those living and working in long-term care homes and designated caregivers
- those living and working in community facilities including adult residential care centres, rehabilitation centres and residential care facilities
The next round of priority groups will include the following:
- anyone working in a hospital who may come into contact with patients
- doctors and nurses who work in the community
- dentists and dental hygienists
- pharmacists and pharmacy technicians
- those who live in large group settings and those who work directly with them, including correctional facilities, shelters and temporary foreign workers’ quarters
- those who are required to regularly travel in and out of the province for work, such as truck drivers and rotational workers, excluding daily travelers to and from New Brunswick
- those who are responsible for food security and cannot maintain public health protocols due to the nature of their work, including those in food processing plants
Strang also said the province is working on its vaccination plan for marginalized communities who are at higher risk of severe consequences from COVID-19.
“We also continue to work with our First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities right now to understand their needs, to ensure our vaccination is culturally responsive,” he said. “We could have prototypes in the next couple of weeks for both of those communities.”
The province will also be increasing the ways in which Nova Scotians can receive their vaccine.
Primarily, immunization will be done in mass community clinics based on descending age groups.
“This is how most Nova Scotians will get immunized,” Strang said. “Our age-based approach will begin with those aged 80 years and older.”
The first age-based community clinic will start at the IWK health centre on Feb. 22 and will run for three days.
“This will be by invitation-only,” Strang said, adding that a number of random Nova Scotians aged over 80 who live within an hour of the clinic. Letters of invite will be received on Feb. 8 advising of eligibility.
Nine more community-based clinics with the descending age groups approach are are planned to operate in March. They will be located in the Halifax Regional Municipality, Truro, Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Kentville, Yarmouth, Antigonish, Amherst and Bridgewater.
By early March, the province also expects to have healthcare provider-based clinics operating. This means pharmacists and physicians who want to administer the vaccine at COVID-19 vaccine clinics will soon have the opportunity.
“Prototype clinics in pharmacies will launch in early March, with plans to expand to more locations by early April.”