New Brunswick has followed the lead of other provinces and suspended the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine for first doses, with some exceptions, the chief medical officer of health announced Thursday. Dr. Jennifer Russell also announced two other New Brunswickers who received the vaccine suffered a rare but potentially deadly blood clot associated with low platelets, known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia, or VITT. Both are in their 50s and received the shot in mid-April. One person has recovered, while the other is still in hospital undergoing treatment, she said. The province will continue to use the vaccine for people aged 55 or older who are confined at home and don't have access to other immunization clinics, with their consent, said Russell. The vaccine does come with risks but also has benefits when it's used appropriately, she said. "In our judgment, we really must employ every tool at our disposal to limit the spread of COVID-19 and further outbreaks." Earlier this month, a New Brunswicker in their 60s died after developing blood clots following vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine. In April, someone in their 30s, who received the vaccine in March, also suffered a blood clot, but recovered. The risk of blood clots associated with the vaccine is now estimated at one in 55,000 in Canada. Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Alberta all suspended the use of AstraZeneca for first doses this week, citing new data showing a still-small but higher risk of blood clots than before. New Brunswick uses AstraZeneca on people 55 or over. The province has about 4,000 doses of the vaccine that must be used before they expire on May 31, and is due to receive another 13,500 doses through the Covax distribution system next week. Russell expects these will be offered to those who received a first dose of AstraZeneca and want a second dose of the same vaccine. Again, this will be done with the person's informed consent, she said. 16 new cases New Brunswick Public Health reported 16 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, including one outside the province. The breakdown of the new cases is as follows: Moncton region, Zone 1, two cases: A person 19 or under A person 50-59 One case is a contact of a previously confirmed case and the other is under investigation. Saint John region, Zone 2, one case: A person 30-39 This case is travel related. Fredericton region, Zone 3, 10 cases: Three people 19 and under A person 20-29 Two people 30-39 Four people 40-49 Six cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases, one is travel-related and three are under investigation. Edmundston region, Zone 4, one case: A person 40-49. This case is travel-related. Bathurst region, Zone 6, two cases: A person 50-59 A person 60-69 One case is travel-related and one is a contact of a previously confirmed case. The 16 new cases of COVID-19 reported Thursday put the total number of active cases at 127.(CBC) Six patients are hospitalized in New Brunswick, including two in an intensive care unit. Another four patients are hospitalized out of province. There are now 127 active cases of the respiratory disease. New Brunswick has had 2,040 confirmed cases of COVID since the pandemic started. There have been 1,871 recoveries so far and 41 COVID-related deaths. A total of 309,544 COVID tests have been conducted. As of Thursday, 296,332 New Brunswickers have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That's 42.7 per cent of the eligible population, aged 12 and older. Premier Blaine Higgs told reporters Thursday "we have a number of [variant] cases today" and new exposures that could create the risk of a situation similar to that of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia reported 149 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, putting the province's total active cases at 1,621. Seventy-five people are in hospital, including 15 in intensive care. Higgs said he remains hopeful Nova Scotia's case numbers will drop off soon and the Atlantic bubble could still reopen by July 1. But "we are not out of the woods yet." Vaccines now available to people 30+ COVID-19 vaccines are now available to people aged 30 and over. People can book an appointment online to receive their first dose of a vaccine through the Vitalité or Horizon health networks or by contacting a participating pharmacy. The province is making a lot of progress in its campaign to get people vaccinated, Education Minister Dominic Cardy said during the COVID briefing Thursday. This week alone, 31,124 people booked appointments to get their first dose through the regional health authorities, he said. "To put that in context, that's about one fifth of all of the appointments booked since March 18," he said. "And it doesn't include the appointments that have been booked through the pharmacies." On Monday morning, when eligibility was expanded to include people aged 40 and older, a record 18,630 people booked an appointment through the government's website within 22 hours, said Department of Health spokesperson Shawn Berry. Outbreak at Fredericton hospital, rehab centre, veterans unit The Horizon Health Network has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital, Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation and Veterans Health Unit after an employee of the hospital tested positive Thursday for a COVID-19 variant of concern. "The employee is self-isolating, but there has been a high-risk of exposure in recent days," the regional health authority said in a news release. All three facilities have returned to red level protocols, effective immediately. Employee Health will contact any staff and physicians who were potentially exposed, while all staff and physicians at the three facilities will continue to be screened for COVID-19 symptoms, the release said. It does not mention how many members of the public may have been exposed. Visitation will be restricted, with some exceptions. More details are expected to be available on Horizon's website later today. Non-urgent surgeries and outpatient appointments will be postponed until further notice. Non-urgent professional service outpatient appointments, including therapeutic services, blood and specimen collection, diagnostic imaging (X-ray), electrodiagnostics and respiratory therapy, will also be postponed until further notice. Affected patients have been notified. "While postponing these important services is certainly not ideal, it is of the utmost importance that we act swiftly to ensure the safety of our patients, physicians and staff and do everything we can to mitigate the risk of spread in our facilities," president and CEO Karen McGrath said in a statement. Positive cases keep 2 schools in Fredericton closed Two schools in the Fredericton area, Leo Hayes High School and Nashwaaksis Middle School, are closed today because of possible exposure to COVID-19. Both schools are closed to allow for contact tracing and for deep cleaning at the building. There are two confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Leo Hayes. The high school is closed to allow for contact tracing and deep cleaning at the building. Students are to resume classes online on Friday. "Public Health officials will contact you if your child has been in close contact with the confirmed cases and will tell you if your child needs to self-isolate," David McTimoney, superintendent of the Anglophone West School District, said in a letter to parents Wednesday. Students will resume classes online on Friday at Leo Hayes High School, where two cases of COVID-19 were reported.(Google Street View) There is also a confirmed case of COVID-19 at Nashwaaksis Middle School. Nashwaaksis Middle School will reopen Friday for those who have not been identified by Public Health as close contacts. "If there is a need to keep the school closed longer, we will transition to online learning from home," McTimoney said. There was also a possible exposure at New Maryland Elementary School. Students there can continue to go to school unless they're contacted by Public Health. "We are working with Public Health officials to identify the individuals who may come into contact with the virus," McTimoney said. Vaccines won't be mandatory in schools During Thursday's briefing, Education Minister Dominic Cardy praised staff for helping keep things as normal as possible for students over the last year. "I thank everyone for their tireless efforts to protect our students and staff. Because of you, our students have been able to maintain routines and ensure their physical, mental and social needs are met." He strongly encouraged department staff to continue to get vaccinated, but he drew the line at making vaccinations mandatory. "It shouldn't have to be something legislated," said Cardy. And he said he wasn't aware of any effort to do so. When the time comes to vaccinate school-aged children, Cardy said the plan is to hold clinics within schools. He said his department has been working with Public Health officials to offer vaccinations during the school year as quickly as possible. Moncton Coliseum testing clinic closed The Horizon Health Network closed its COVID-19 assessment centre and blood collection clinic at the Moncton Coliseum Thursday morning as RCMP responded to a report of shots fired in the Centennial Park area. "If you had an appointment, please DO NOT go to the Coliseum. Follow @RCMPNB for more information," the regional health authority posted on social media at 10:25 a.m. RCMP are advising residents, schools, businesses and people in area to lock their doors, shelter in place and stay away from windows. Latest exposure notifications Public Health has identified a potential public exposure to the coronavirus at the following locations and dates in the Fredericton region, Zone 3: My Home Consignment, 5 Acorn St., Fredericton — May 8 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., May 7 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., May 6 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., and May 5 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Sobeys, 1180 Prospect St., Fredericton, — May 8 between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Lunar Rogue, 625 King Ave., Fredericton — April 28 between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Fix Auto, 156 Greenview Dr., Hanwell — May 6 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., April 30 between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., April 29 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., and April 28 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Public Health is offering COVID-19 testing to anyone who has been in a public exposure area, even it they're not experiencing any symptoms. Residents may request a test online or call Tele-Care 811 to book an appointment. Previous exposure notifications Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious on May 6 while on the following flights: Air Canada Flight 396 – from Edmonton to Toronto, departed at 6:50 a.m. Air Canada Flight 8898 – from Toronto to Moncton, departed at 8:43 p.m. Public Health has identified a potential public exposure to the coronavirus at the following locations and dates in the following regions: Moncton region: Pumphouse, 5 Orange Ln., Moncton, on May 4 between 8 and 10 p.m. Staples, 233 Main St., Moncton, on May 5, between noon and 8 p.m. Walmart Supercentre, 477 Paul St., Dieppe, on May 6, between 7 and 10 p.m. Greco Pizza, 311 Acadie Blvd., Dieppe, on May 7, between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. Greco Pizza, 120 Killam Dr., Moncton, on May 5, between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m., May 3, between 5:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m., and May 2, between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. Greco Pizza, 311 Acadie Blvd., Dieppe, on May 4, between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre emergency department, 330 Université Ave., Moncton, on May 7, between 2-9:30 p.m., and May 6, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saint John region: Foodland, 1 Market Sq., Quispamsis, on May 3, between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Fredericton region: Lunar Rogue, 625 King St., Fredericton, on April 28, between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Fix Auto, 156 Greenview Dr., Hanwell, on May 6, between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., April 30, between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., April 29, between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and April 28, between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. What to do if you have a symptom People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: Fever above 38 C. New cough or worsening chronic cough. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. Difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes. People with one of those symptoms should: Stay at home. Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. Describe symptoms and travel history. Follow instructions.