Nova Scotians booked thousands of appointments for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine within a few hours of the age cohort opening up to people aged 40 to 54.
“All of us are just eager to take ourselves out of that pool as susceptible individuals to get this virus,” said Dustin LindenSmith, a Dartmouth resident who was able to book an online appointment.
The provincial health department confirmed that by noon all of the available appointments for the Halifax Regional Municipality were booked. The department said some may become available within the HRM if people cancel.
The influx of appointments comes after one Halifax pharmacy reported their AstraZeneca appointments were getting cancelled prior to the province announcing the age expansion on Wednesday.
“We probably had about 50 or so appointments cancel since they opened up the age group to 55 plus for Pfizer and Moderna,” Tina MacLean said, a Halifax-based pharmacist.
Now that the age expansion for AstraZeneca has been made, the province estimates roughly 195,000 Nova Scotians are eligible to receive the vaccine.
Upper Tantallon resident Richard MacLellan is one of them.
“We’re getting way more information on this medical treatment than probably anything else we’ve ever contemplated taking in our life but when you look at the science and you look at the data, it’s a no-brainer,” MacLellan said, on signing up for the first vaccine he was eligible to receive.
With the bookings filling up so rapidly some Nova Scotians wondered whether they were able to travel outside of their community for a vaccine appointment given that the province is in the midst of a strict lockdown.
Nova Scotia’s top doctor clarified that point during Friday’s COVID-19 briefing.
“What we’re looking at is for people to avoid non-essential travel outside of their community. Certainly, getting a COVID test, or a COVID vaccine is necessary and essential.
“If you need to travel try and do it as close to home as possible,” chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang said.
Strang adds there are about 10,000 AstraZeneca appointments left and they will be shared equitably across the province.
He also says the age-based approach to the vaccine rollout is the fastest way Nova Scotia will reach herd immunity.