N.S. reports 67 new cases of COVID-19; bookings for AstraZeneca vaccine open for ages 40-54

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Nova Scotians aged 40 to 54 can now book an appointment to receive an AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. (Bob Edme/The Associated Press - image credit)
Nova Scotians aged 40 to 54 can now book an appointment to receive an AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. (Bob Edme/The Associated Press - image credit)

As the province opened vaccine booking appointments for Nova Scotians aged 40 to 54, Nova Scotia reported 67 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

The new cases bring the total known active caseload to 589.

There are 57 new cases in the central zone, three in the northern zone, four in the western zone and three in the eastern zone, according to a tweet from the Department of Health and Wellness.

As of 8:30 a.m., Nova Scotians aged 40 to 54 could book an appointment for an AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.

Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, announced Wednesday the age cohort would be able to start booking the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine on Friday, as the province currently has a surplus of about 10,000 doses.

On Friday, Strang told CBC's Information Morning the amount of unused Astrazeneca is "not a lot," and the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines will likely be made available to the 40-plus age group within the next few weeks.

There are nearly 200,000 Nova Scotians between 40 and 54.

Given the differences between the types of COVID-19 vaccines, Strang said it's important for people to make informed choices about booking a shot.

"[AstraZeneca] certainly has the risk of the blood-clotting issue, [which is] uncommon but it's very serious, that people have to consider," Strang said.

There is mounting evidence indicating that when compared to mRNA vaccines, the AstraZeneca shot is less effective at preventing asymptomatic spread and less effective long term. Strang said those are factors Nova Scotians 40 and up will have to consider as they decide whether to book a shot now, or wait a few weeks for more options.

The AstraZeneca vaccine was already available to those aged 55 to 64, and those who are 55 and older are also eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

Rankin and Strang are scheduled to hold a briefing at 2 p.m. and are expected to announce new details of the vaccine rollout.

Due to a technical problem, the province has not been releasing the daily testing numbers this week. But in a tweet Thursday afternoon, Nova Scotia Health said between Sunday and Tuesday, labs processed almost 40,000 COVID-19 tests, including 14,730 on Tuesday alone.

Atlantic Canada case numbers

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