Increased demand for COVID-19 vaccinations, testing as N.B. ponders new restrictions

Click to play video: 'Uptick in COVID-19 cases leads to vaccine push in New Brunswick' Uptick in COVID-19 cases leads to vaccine push in New Brunswick
As COVID-19 numbers continue to climb across the province, more New Brunswickers are looking to get vaccinated. But as Tim Roszell tells us, the push may not be enough to prevent new pandemic restrictions – Sep 17, 2021

New Brunswick health officials are reporting a jump in bookings of COVID-19 vaccination appointments in the days following the government’s unveiling of a proof of vaccination policy.

“Yesterday we scheduled 1,929 vaccination appointments at regional health authority clinics, in addition to 1,700 bookings the day before,” New Brunswick chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said in a Friday news release. “Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, the recent average was 600 bookings per day.”

Russell also said walk-in clinic and pharmacy numbers are also up.

“On Thursday, 600 additional vaccines had to be delivered to a clinic in the Moncton area,” she said.

Read more: New Brunswick to require vaccination proof as new cases hit daily record high

Public Health, Horizon Health Network and Vitalité Health Network also report an increase in demand for COVID-19 tests.

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Horizon issued a news release touting the “immediate need” for additional staffing to assist in its testing facilities and vaccination clinics.

In a statement to Global News, Horizon’s vice-president of community Jean Daigle said the network needs up to 65 clinicians and administrative support workers as they look to ramp up services.

“This external call was further necessitated by the limited options available to redeploy existing staff from within Horizon to our clinic/assessment centre operations,” Daigle said. “These are paid positions and any new hires will go through a rapid onboarding process so they can join our team as quickly as possible.”

Kevin Wilson, a Halifax-based epidemiologist and vaccine data analyst, said testing is key to stopping the current spike in COVID-19 cases given the absence of restrictions like mask mandates.

“From a virus perspective, that means there’s nothing to really stop the spread of the virus except for things like testing a contact tracing,” Wilson said. “And so it becomes much more important to lean on those assets as much as possible.”

Wilson noted this is the first time New Brunswick has seen large active case numbers in multiple health zones, as previous outbreaks were centralized in a specific area. He believes the province needs to adjust its testing procedures as demand is likely to go up in every region.

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The New Brunswick government is examining additional health measures.

Read more: N.B. chambers of commerce to distribute COVID-19 rapid tests to businesses

Public Health met Friday with Premier Blaine Higgs and provincial opposition leaders.

Green Party Leader David Coon confirmed new measures were discussed but said it will be the government that announces them, perhaps as soon as Sept. 20.

“Public Health clearly said that vaccinations are not sufficient to get us through this fall and winter by themselves,” Coon said. “There needs to be additional public health measures.”

Interim New Brunswick Liberal Leader Roger Melanson said “we’ve got to take this new Delta variant very seriously.”

“And there’s going to be some measures taken that need to be taken.”


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