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New Brunswick expands vaccine eligibility to people 50+, young people with chronic conditions

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick expands COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to people 50+, young people with chronic conditions' New Brunswick expands COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to people 50+, young people with chronic conditions
New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell announced on Tuesday that the province has expanded its COVID-19 vaccine eligibility for people aged 50 or older as well as people over the age of 16 who have at least two chronic conditions. She urged those eligible to book right away, through a local pharmacist or their regional health authority – May 4, 2021

The province of New Brunswick has opened its vaccine eligibility for people aged 50 or older, as well as people over the age of 16 who have at least two chronic conditions.

“If you are now eligible, I urge you to make an appointment today and don’t wait,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health.

“By taking the vaccine, you will be helping to save lives, prevent illness, and protect our health-care system.”

Eligible New Brunswickers can make an appointment through a local pharmacist or their regional health authority, Russell said.

Click to play video: 'N.B. making COVID-19 vaccines available to two new age groups' N.B. making COVID-19 vaccines available to two new age groups
N.B. making COVID-19 vaccines available to two new age groups – May 4, 2021

As well, the province reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday: one each in Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 3, and Zone 6. All are directly related to travel.

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Read more: New Brunswick reports 15 new cases of COVID-19, another death

There are now 141 active cases of COVID-19, with six people in hospital, two of whom are in intensive care. Russell said 850 people are currently in self-isolation.

On Monday, the province announced its 38th COVID-19 death: a person over the age of 90 in the Edmundston region.

‘We can stop this’

Education Minister Dominic Cardy, who also led Tuesday’s conference, described the vaccines as “a miracle of modern science” and urged all eligible New Brunswickers to get one as soon as possible.

“A year and a half ago … we had estimates of three, four, five years before a single vaccine was developed, and now we have a portfolio of vaccines available to New Brunswickers for free, today, that will put an end to this misery of the last year and a bit now, as we’ve endured isolation, lockdowns, economic damage, devastation to families, unnecessary deaths,” he said.

“We can stop this. We can stop this with the vaccines that our society has produced for us to use.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Cardy tells New Brunswickers to get 1st shot offered, criticizes NACI for contributing to confusion' COVID-19: Cardy tells New Brunswickers to get 1st shot offered, criticizes NACI for contributing to confusion
COVID-19: Cardy tells New Brunswickers to get 1st shot offered, criticizes NACI for contributing to confusion – May 4, 2021

Cardy offered his condolences after the recent deaths of two residents of Pavillon Beau-Lieu, a special care home currently experiencing an outbreak of the variant first detected in South Africa, and implored any long-term care workers who haven’t been vaccinated yet to get their shot. 35 residents and 14 staff at the home have contracted the virus so far.

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He also called out those who “undermine faith in the vaccine system” and encouraged New Brunswickers to get the first vaccine available to them, referencing comments made by the National Advisory Committee referring to mRNA vaccines as the “preferred vaccines.”

Read more: Confusion, anger arises over NACI’s mixed messaging on ‘preferred’ COVID-19 vaccine

“If a vaccine is approved by Public Health Canada, and approved by Dr. Russell and her team, take that shot,” he said.

“Ignore NACI, ignore anti-maskers, ignore people undermining faith in science, and do your part for New Brunswick.”

Vaccination plan

In an email, Shawn Berry, a spokesperson for the Department of Health, said the province received 33,560 doses of vaccine last week and more than 15,000 doses are being delivered to community pharmacies this week.

“There’s a direct link between the number of vaccines that we receive and the number that can be administered,” he said.

“For example, the week of April 19, we received 22,230 doses of vaccine. Following that, last week we distributed 23,400 doses and over the past seven days there have been 27,418 doses reported to us as administered.”

Berry said the federal government has plans to send in more vaccine doses in the coming weeks, and the province expects to be able to offer vaccination to every eligible New Brunswicker by the end of June.

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Update on UNB outbreak

The province has also provided an update on the current outbreak at the University of New Brunswick, which has been linked to 13 cases of COVID-19.

Russell said faculty, staff and students can now return to UNB in accordance with the school’s operational plan. Public Health continues to monitor two residences to ensure the outbreak is contained.

She said residents and staff at Magee House, one of the residences involved, were tested on Sunday and will be tested again on Wednesday. For those who tested negative, their isolation is expected to end on May 8.

Read more: UNB says risk to Magee House residents from ventilation is ‘minimal’

Those staying at the Elizabeth Parr-Johnston Residence were retested on Monday and are awaiting results. To date, all results from this residence has been negative, and the isolation order will be lifted sometime on Wednesday if everyone is negative.

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