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When could New Brunswick remove all COVID-19 restrictions?

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31.7 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers have both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, as of Monday’s numbers. But the province needs to boost those numbers by more than 40 per cent to hit it's full reopening target August 2. Callum Smith reports – Jun 29, 2021

While 31.7 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers now have both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the province, there is a long way to go before restrictions lift.

The province needs to boost those numbers by more than 40 per cent to hit its full reopening target on Aug. 2.

The ‘Path to Green,’ as it’s been known, requires 75 per cent of the eligible population to be fully vaccinated and COVID-19 hospitalizations to remain low before all restrictions would be lifted.

Read more: Border rule changes keep N.B. man from seeing dying grandfather in N.S. one last time

But despite a record-breaking week with vaccines administered, Ray Harris, a Fredericton-based data strategy consultant with Data Wazo, says he expects the pace to slow — and New Brunswick to miss its target date.

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Ray Harris, a data strategy consultant, expects New Brunswick will miss its August 2 target to fully reopen. Courtesy: Data Wazo

“Looking at the numbers we have now, expecting that to continue is just unreasonable and I don’t, even though it’s so good right now, I don’t think we’re going to hit that August goal,” he says. “I think we’ll probably be a little bit later, if not into the early teens of August before we see it.”

He says data from the U.S. shows second-dose hesitancy and concern about possible side effects.

Second dose administration

Meanwhile, Dr. Jeff Steeves, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS), says it’s “very possible” to achieve vaccine targets by Aug. 2 and is not worried about second dose hesitancy.

“I think there will always be a bit of slowing of the rate as you’ve gone through the ‘really willing’ participants, but remember, everybody tolerated their first dose really well,” he says. “So if they had hesitancy, they’re probably through that because now they want to complete their vaccination.”

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He says 40,000 people were on the government vaccination booking site this weekend trying to book second dose appointments. But he’s also heard of cases where people are vaccine shopping.

“We’ve certainly heard of cases where people have shown up thinking they were going to get Pfizer, which had been the most common vaccine delivered, and Moderna is what was available at that point and having some reluctancy or hesitancy.”

People lined up at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Moncton Coliseum Tuesday. Callum Smith / Global News

“Those two are basically interchangeable, they are the same messenger RNA vaccine that’s taken 20 years to develop, they’re not new, they’ve both been proven to be safe, they’ve both been proved to be effective,” Steeves says.

Eagerness for ‘normal’ life

People coming out the doors of the Moncton Coliseum’s vaccination clinic Tuesday are eager to put the pandemic behind them.

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“It’s been a month since my [first dose], I figured I’d do my part, come out, get the second dose so we can get to that next level, get back to what’s ‘normal’ and then go from there,” says Kevin McCaffery.

He says both doses were Pfizer, but that “I would’ve taken anything that was offered.”

Read more: ‘Optimism in the air’: Prince Edward Island reopens to Atlantic Canada

Samuel Bordage received the Moderna vaccine for his first dose and had Pfizer as the second dose.

He’s looking forward to “those beer gardens and concerts and all that fun stuff, and being able to travel,” when all restrictions are eventually removed.

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