N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Mandatory vaccines for provincial employees, 2 universities

·11 min read
A syringe is filled with a dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine.   (Brendan McDermid/File Photo/Reuters - image credit)
A syringe is filled with a dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. (Brendan McDermid/File Photo/Reuters - image credit)

New Brunswick said Thursday it is making vaccines mandatory for all government employees as 23 new cases of COVID-19 were reported.

In a news release, Public Health said the cabinet agreed to a recommendation that full vaccination be required of all provincial employees.

Employees who have not received both doses of a vaccine will have to wear face masks at work until they are fully vaccinated.

Being fully vaccinated will also be a condition of employment for new hires in the public sector, Public Health said.

Details of the vaccine policy, including when it will go into effect, are still being finalized.

19 just-diagnosed people not fully vaccinated

Twenty-three new cases of COVID-19 across three health zones were reported Thursday. One person is hospital with the disease. Nineteen were not fully vaccinated, Public Health said.

"Out of the new cases being reported today, 83 per cent are not fully vaccinated," Dr. Cristin Muecke, deputy chief medical officer, said in a news release.

The new cases of COVID-19 in the Moncton, Saint John and Miramichi regions break down as follows:

Moncton region, Zone 1, 16 cases:

  • Four people 19 and under

  • Three people 20 to 29

  • Two people 30 to 39

  • Three people 40 to 49

  • Two people 50 to 59

  • Two people 60 to 69

Two of the cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and 14 are under investigation.

Saint John region, Zone 2, three cases:

  • Two people 19 and under

  • A person 30 to 39

Two cases are under investigation and the third is travel-related.

Miramichi region, Zone 7, four cases:

  • A person 20 to 29

  • Two people 40 to 49

  • A person 60 to 69

Three cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases. The other case is under investigation.

Vaccination rates rose slightly Thursday, with 72 per cent of the eligible population now fully vaccinated, compared to 71.9 per cent Wednesday.

A total of 83.7 per cent of New Brunswickers over the age of 12 have at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to 83.6 per cent from the day prior.

CBC News
CBC News

A mobile vaccination clinic will be open Saturday at the Fredericton Public Library from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Additional clinics will be open in St. Stephen and Saint-Quentin.

  • Fredericton, Brookside Mall, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

  • St. Stephen, Garcelon Civic Centre, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

  • Saint-Quentin, Auberge Évasion des Rêves, 9 a.m. to noon, Moderna vaccine, only for those 18 and older

2 universities require vaccines

St. Thomas and Mount Allison universities both announced Thursday that vaccinations will be mandatory for students, faculty and staff this fall.

This news comes one week after the universities said they encouraged, but would not require, students to be vaccinated.

"We recognize that we need to do more to strengthen our health and safety measures," STU president Dawn Russell said in a release. "Therefore, St. Thomas will be developing and implementing a policy of mandatory vaccinations consistent with the guidance from Public Health."

Other health measures, including mandatory masks, physical distancing and disinfection measures, will still be required on campus.

Russell said more details of the vaccination policy will be released in the coming days.

She said the school conducted a survey earlier this month to find out how many students were already vaccinated.

Results showed that 87 per cent of students already have, or expect to receive, two doses of the vaccine before the school year and another 10 per cent planned to get both doses in September.

The University of New Brunswick also announced last week it would not require staff, faculty and students to be vaccinated this fall.

But it sent a release shortly after STU's announcement, saying a survey to better understand the current vaccination rates at the school had been sent out.

"We continue to be flexible and agile in our approach to our ever-changing situation as it relates to the ongoing global pandemic," Heather Campbell, director of communications at UNB, said in a statement.

"We encourage all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated and to maintain copies of their vaccination status."

Mount Allison University iwill require students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1 if they want to avoid regular testing.

The university said it is implementing a "mandatory" vaccine policy and increasing safety measures.

Submitted by Mount Allison
Submitted by Mount Allison

Everyone will be required to be fully vaccinated with two doses "of an approved vaccine as soon as possible, and by Oct. 1 at the latest."

"More infectious COVID-19 variants have been identified, and many areas of the country and the world have entered a fourth wave," the release says. "While there has been a significant and encouraging uptake in vaccinations, public health experts continue to advise COVID-19 is not yet fully under control."

Last week, universities in Ontario implemented similar mandatory vaccine policies.

Jon Collicott/CBC
Jon Collicott/CBC

The Mount A release says students, faculty, and staff will have to submit proof of vaccination. It specifies that unvaccinated people won't be prevented from working or studying at the university but will have to go through regular testing and have to wear masks.

Anne Comfort, the vice-president, international and student affairs, is quoted as saying the university's approach "strikes a balance" between protecting the community and respecting individual rights.

The university is partnering with Guardian Pharmacy in Sackville to make sure vaccines are available for students and staff. The release does not say what would happen if an unvaccinated student or faculty member refused to get tested or to wear a mask.

Last week, New Brunswick universities, including Mount A, said they would not make vaccination mandatory.

The Mount Allison Students' Union released a statement applauding this policy. The union said it partnered with the university to survey the student body about their vaccination status. All of the 328 students who answered the survey said they've had at least one dose, results quoted in the statement show.

The student union statement says 95.7 per cent of the students surveyed said they are fully vaccinated, and 4.3 per cent said they have one dose with a plan to receive a second dose in the future.

According to its website, the university has about 2,300 students.

Tori Weldon/CBC
Tori Weldon/CBC

Student union president Charlie Burke said she doesn't expect much pushback from the student body about this policy, since a mandatory mask policy within 1 metre of distance was already implemented.

"One of the reasons that we are supportive of this decision is because it's not barring students from coming to campus," Burke said in an interview. "It's also giving students enough time if they are currently unvaccinated to get their vaccine before Oct. 1."

Burke said the university told the union the list of approved vaccines would be the same as the Health-Canada approved vaccine list, which includes the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines.

The list does not include certain vaccines used abroad. Burke said international students will have the chance to get the Canadian-approved vaccines at no cost.

"We also already have international students who are isolating on our campus. They'll be out soon and we'll be able to get vaccinated in Sackville in time," she said.

New possible exposures

Public Health added two new potential COVID-19 exposure warnings Thursday to the already lengthy list. They include:

Moncton region, Zone 1:

  • Aug. 15 between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. – Jean's Restaurant (1999 Mountain Rd., Moncton)

  • Aug. 14 between 2 and 3 p.m. – Champlain Mall Food Court (477 Paul St., Dieppe)

Saint John region, Zone 2:

  • Aug. 15 between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.– Costco Wholesale Saint John (300 Retail Dr., Saint John)

Anyone with symptoms of the virus, as well as anyone who has been at the site of a possible public exposure, is being urged to request a test online or call Tele-Care 811 to get an appointment.

Previous exposure notices

Public Health has identified a positive case of COVID-19 in a person who may have been infectious while on the following flight:

  • Aug. 11 – Air Canada Flight 8773 – from Montreal to Saint John, which departed at 9:14 a.m.

  • Aug. 7 – Air Canada Flight 8904 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 8:03 p.m.

Public Health has also identified places in New Brunswick where people may have been exposed to the coronavirus during the past two weeks.

Moncton region:

• Aug. 11 – Groupe- Support Emotionnel, 96 Norwood Ave., Suite 300A, Moncton

• Aug. 14 between 2 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. – Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre emergency room, 330 Université Ave., Moncton

• Aug. 9, 10, 11, 13, and 14 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. – Action Car and Truck Accessories, 200 Horsman Rd., Moncton

• Aug. 9, 10, and 13 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. – Deware's Service Centre, 402 Elmwood Dr., Moncton

• Aug. 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. – Oulton College, 55 Lutz St.

• Aug. 12 between 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. – St. Louis Bar & Grill, 1405 Mountain Rd.

• Aug. 12 between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. – H&M, 477 Paul St., Dieppe

• Aug. 12 between 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. – Our Place, 97 Cameron St., Moncton

• Aug. 9, 10, 11, and 12 between 6:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. – Hillsborough Irving, 2799 Main St., Hillsborough

• Aug. 11 between 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. – Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre diagnostic imaging waiting room, 330 University Ave.

• Aug.11 between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. – New Life Pentecostal Church, 65 Dawson Rd., Weldon

• Aug. 11 between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. – Costco, 140 Granite Dr., Moncton

• Aug. 9, 10, and 11 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. – Corn Crib, 337 Mountain Dr., Moncton

• Aug. 11 between 12 a.m. and 2 a.m. – Ioob Lounge Ltd., 127 Robinson St., Moncton

• Aug. 10 between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. – Chris Rock Tavern, 48 Albert St.

• Aug. 8 between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. - Apostolic Lighthouse Church, 332 Bayley Rd., Riverview

• Aug. 7 between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. – Navigators Pub, 190 Robinson Court

• Aug. 7 between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m., Aug. 8 between 6 p.m. and 4 a.m. – Wise Guys Pub, 176 Robinson St.

• Aug. 7 between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. – Old Triangle Irish Alehouse, 751 Main St., Moncton

• Aug. 5 between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. – Costco, 140 Granite Dr., Moncton

• Aug. 1 between 1 p.m and 3 p.m. - Montana's, 225 Mapleton Rd., Moncton

• Aug. 1 between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. - Apostolic Lighthouse Church, 332 Bayley Rd., Riverview

The province also shared possible sites of COVID-19 exposure in the Saint John, Fredericton, and Miramichi regions

Saint John region, Zone 2:

• Aug. 9 – Three Bears Campground,12049 Rte. 114, Penobsquis

• Aug. 4 and 5 – Three Bears Campground,12049 Rte. 114, Penobsquis

• Aug. 4 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. – Atlantic Superstore, 44 Lower Cove Rd., Sussex

• Aug. 2 between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. – JJ's Restaurant, 40941 Rte. 1, Sussex

Fredericton region, Zone 3:

• Aug. 11 between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. – McDonald's in Walmart, 1381 Regent St., Fredericton

• Aug. 12 between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. – Sobeys, 1180 Prospect St., Fredericton

• Aug. 12 between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. – Costco Gas Bar and Costco Store, 25 Wayne Squibb Blvd., Fredericton

• Aug. 11 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., Aug. 12 between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. – Atlantic Superstore, 350 Connell St., Woodstock

• Aug. 10 between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. – Coast Tire, 283 Connell St., Woodstock

• Aug. 9 between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., Tim Horton's, 667 Main St., Woodstock

• Aug. 8 between 10:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. - Grafton Baptist Church, 48 Saunders St., Grafton

• Aug. 6 between 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. – Sobeys, 370 Connell Rd, Woodstock

• Aug. 7 between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. – Dolan's Pub, 349 King St.

Miramichi region, Zone 7:

• Aug. 6 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. – Ultramar Truck Stop, 11365 Rte 11, Napan

The full list of possible exposures is updated regularly and is available on the government's website.

What to do if you have a symptom

People concerned they might have COVID-19 can take a self-assessment test online.

Public Health says symptoms of the illness have included a fever above 38 C, a new or worsening cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, a new onset of fatigue, and 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 811 or their doctor and follow instructions.

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