Young Nova Scotians will have to wait until the end of July to book their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, when the province expects to get a large shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech.
Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief officer of health, said Monday a "substantive" shipment of Pfizer vaccine is expected the week of July 25.
People ages 12-17 currently can receive Pfizer vaccine only. Strang said he's waiting for a federal decision around whether teens could soon be approved for Moderna.
But Strang said he's also heard of adults waiting to book their second dose because they think Pfizer is the better option.
"This is incorrect. Pfizer and Moderna are the same type of vaccine, and both are equally effective and safe. One is not better than the other," Strang said during a COVID-19 briefing alongside Premier Iain Rankin.
He added that Nova Scotians getting their second dose of vaccine sooner will help the province move out of the pandemic "sooner than we hoped." He said 29 per cent of Nova Scotians have had two doses of vaccine.
There are few Pfizer appointments available across Nova Scotia right now due to an unexpected temporary reduction in the supply, Strang said. He added that the federal government has not explained the reason behind the shortage.
Border open to international travellers
As of Monday morning, international travellers approved to enter the country can also come into Nova Scotia by following the same restrictions as other Canadians.
Those who are fully vaccinated don't have to self-isolate, while those with one dose of vaccine have to self-isolate for at least a week with two negative tests. Everyone crossing into Nova Scotia has to fill out a check-in form.
Strang said he's heard that the Nova Scotia airports and land border crossings have been busy with lots of people entering the province already, which will only continue over the next few months.
"It's impressive, considering this time last year the vaccines did not even exist," Strang said.
Nova Scotia's approach of reopening slowly is working, Rankin said. He said all signs point to the province moving to Phase 4 next Wednesday.
Cape Breton, Halifax clusters remain
Nova Scotia reported one new case of COVID-19 Monday, and nine new recoveries.
The new case is in the central zone and is travel-related, according to a news release from the province. There are now 45 active cases of COVID-19 across the province.
Community spread in the central zone is limited, according to the release, and other areas of the province are being monitored.
Strang said there are still two active clusters of COVID-19 cases in the Halifax and Glace Bay areas, which were first identified about two weeks ago.
He said while many of the people involved have not been vaccinated, which is a "significant" factor, the virus hasn't spread further into the community.
Public Health has responded with mobile testing and offered easy access to the vaccine within these clusters, Strang said.
Nova Scotia Health Authority's labs completed 2,293 tests on Sunday. The province is encouraging people to keep getting tested.
One million doses
Nova Scotia delivered its one millionth COVID-19 vaccine over the weekend, hitting a major milestone for the province.
Premier Rankin toured the IWK hospital's vaccination clinic Monday; the facility delivered the millionth vaccine Sunday.
He said 74 per cent of Nova Scotians have either had a first shot, or are booked for it.
"The target was 75 per cent. We're almost there, but we need to keep going with that final push," he told CBC's Information Morning Nova Scotia on Monday.
"Getting the second dose really protects you from the variants of concern."
He said a new walk-in clinic at the Halifax Convention Centre is one way they're trying to reach Nova Scotians who still need their first shot. He said it's often students without a health card or shift workers who have changing schedules who have struggled to get the first shot. Both groups can now walk into the convention centre clinic and get their first shot.
"People realize that in order to travel and do the things that they would normally like to do, that they will require a vaccination," he said.
"We are seeing people that originally weren't planning to get a shot coming out now."
Nova Scotia reported three new cases Sunday for a total of 53 active cases.
Nova Scotians who received their first dose on or before June 15 can now schedule or reschedule their second appointment.
In a news release, the province said emails will be sent out soon to alert people that they can reschedule their second dose. If you didn't give an email at your first appointment then you will need to call 1-833-797-7772.
Nova Scotians are able to select a different vaccine for their second dose if they want.
Drive-thru clinics at Dartmouth, Truro, New Glasgow and Wolfville are now able to vaccinate up to four people in one vehicle. During booking, one to four people can be scheduled for one drive-thru vaccination time.
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