COVID-19: Nova Scotia vaccination program takes ‘huge step forward’ as 2021 draws to a close

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia ramping up COVID-19 vaccinations for children, boosters for others'
Nova Scotia ramping up COVID-19 vaccinations for children, boosters for others
WATCH: As 2021 draws to a close, Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 vaccination program is once again ramping up as newly-eligible children across the province get their first doses. As well, booster shots continue to open up to new age cohorts. Alexa MacLean has the latest on Nova Scotia’s vaccine rollout. – Dec 9, 2021

Nova Scotia’s top doctor expressed his gratitude to Jack Woodhead, the first newly eligible child to receive his COVID-19 vaccine, during the latest provincial briefing.

“That is a huge step forward now in our efforts to control this pandemic,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of health, on Dec. 7.

Since vaccine clinics for children opened on Dec. 1, 21 per cent have already gotten their first dose and nearly half of the 65,000 children who are eligible have scheduled an appointment.

Read more: Nova Scotia opens COVID-19 vaccine bookings for children aged 5 to 11

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Strang says that surge in bookings will help increase Nova Scotia’s overall vaccination rates. More than 81.7 per cent of the province is now fully vaccinated.

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While Strang says the top priority remains on getting people up to speed with their primary vaccine series, booster shots are now fully underway.

As of now, Nova Scotians aged 70 and older are eligible for their third dose as long as six months have passed since their last shot.

“We have to make older groups a priority. They’re at greater risk than the 60 to 69s, and the 50 to 59s,” Strang said.

Nova Scotia pharmacists have been on the frontlines of immunization and are once again busy with vaccine bookings for children and boosters.

Halifax pharmacist, Greg Richard, says he’s honoured to help Nova Scotians along their vaccination journey.

“To give them comfort, and help them through their fears, and any kind of hesitation they may have around vaccines – I feel really blessed, honestly, to have that opportunity,” he said.

Greg Richard is a Halifax pharmacist who says he feels ‘blessed’ to be on the frontlines of the province’s vaccination program. Global Halifax/Alexa MacLean

Strang says booster shots for people aged 50 and younger will be scheduled sometime in the new year.

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He also had some important guidance to share for 12- to 29-year-olds following a recent update from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization [NACI].

“NACI now recommends Pfizer and not Moderna because the rare risk of myocarditis and pericarditis, associated with mRNA vaccines appears more common after Moderna,” he said.

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Strang encourages anyone in that age category to reschedule their appointment to receive a Pfizer vaccine if they haven’t done so already.

He also stated that a limited shipment of viral vector vaccines are expected soon. These include one-dose Johnson & Johnson along with AstraZenenca.

He says these shipments are coming in an effort to encourage people to get immunized who refuse to get mRNA vaccines.

However, he reiterates that growing evidence supports mRNA vaccines as the lead recommendation.

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“The strong recommendation from public health is to get an mRNA vaccine,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Concern about COVID-19 in Nova Scotia childcare settings'
Concern about COVID-19 in Nova Scotia childcare settings

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