Public Health reported four new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, and a total of 66.1 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are now fully vaccinated, while 81.9 per cent have received at least one dose.
Another 5,913 people rolled up their sleeves Wednesday, the COVID-19 dashboard shows. Of those, 4,892 received their second dose and 1,021 got their first shot.
"We're now up to just about 85 [per cent] of people eligible for their second dose being fully vaccinated," observed Oliver Dueck, a software developer based in Fredericton, who has been tracking the province's vaccine data for the past few months.
People become eligible for their second dose 28 days after their first dose.
"That leaves about 83,000 people who had their first dose at least 28 days ago who have not yet had their second dose," he said.
In a statement, Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said it's important for all eligible New Brunswickers to get fully vaccinated, "especially as we near going fully green.
The province is set to lift all pandemic restrictions, including mandatory masks, gathering limits and provincial border checks for travellers within Canada, Friday at 11:59 p.m., regardless of whether it meets its vaccination target to have 75 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 and older fully vaccinated.
"If you have not yet done so, please act now. This will not only reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 and of being seriously ill, it will also help to protect your family and friends," Russell said.
Mobile walk-in Moderna clinics are being held across the province to help make getting vaccinated more convenient and accessible. Clinics were held Thursday afternoon in New Denmark and Saint-Paul.
Another clinic accepting walk-ins Thursday is:
Saint John — Exhibition Park, 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (12 years and older – Pfizer-BioNTech)
The province has offered Moderna only at the pop-up mobile clinics, despite an increased supply of Pfizer-BioNTech and despite new concerns that people who receive two different vaccines won't be able to travel to some countries, because Moderna presents "less challenges to transport and store due to its temperature requirements," said Department of Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane.
On New Brunswick Day, Aug. 2, however, a mobile walk-in clinic offering Pfizer will be held in Fredericton at the Crowne Plaza, 659 Queen St., from noon to 5 p.m., for anyone those who not yet received their first or second dose.
This will be the last in a recent series of regular pop-up clinics, said Macfarlane.
Although they've been successful, with a total of about 2,000 second doses and 700 first doses administered as of Wednesday, the uptake has dropped off at the more recent ones, "in part due to the amount of New Brunswickers who are now fully vaccinated," he said.
Targeted mobile clinics will continue, as needed, for universities, homebound residents, and in vulnerable settings, he added.
A list of upcoming walk-in clinics is available online.
Asked why more clinics don't offer both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to make it easier for people who want to avoid mixing vaccines even though the the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) says it's safe and effective, Macfarlane said the regional health authorities and pharmacies have access to both brands.
"The clinics can administer either vaccine, depending on what is allocated to each respective clinic on given day.
"Both vaccines are prepared differently so they are typically not offered at the same clinic in order to minimize any potential administration errors. However, some do offer both vaccine types on the same day," he said.
Anyone 12 or older can be vaccinated.
People are asked to bring their Medicare card, a signed consent form, and their record of vaccination if they're receiving their second dose.
Some pharmacies drop out of vaccination program
Some pharmacies across the province are opting out of the COVID-19 vaccination program.
Jake Reid, executive director of the New Brunswick Pharmacists' Association, says pharmacists and their staff have been "going flat out" for four months and are ready for a break.
They haven't just been administering the vaccines, he told CBC's Shift. There's a lot of work behind the scenes to handle all the phone calls, book and reschedule appointments and manage the inventory.
"Every pharmacist that I've talked to has said just how happy they are to be part of the program because they really are helping members of their community. But at the same time, it's been a burden. It's been extra work on top of the wonderful work that they do already, dispensing medications and providing health services and other things."
At the peak of the program, 220 pharmacies were participating. Now, that has dropped to 179.
But the demand for vaccines is also decreasing, said Reid.
"So that's another reason why de-escalating a little bit, having a few less clinics is not necessarily a bad thing." It will help ensure as little vaccine wastage as possible, he said.
Public Health is co-ordinating with pharmacies to make sure vaccines remain accessible, Reid said.
Pharmacies have been "key partners" in the vaccination campaign," and "one of the major reasons for the success of the provincial immunization program," said Department of Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane.
They have administered 44 per cent of the more than one million doses to date.
This represents "unprecedented collaboration between the public and private sectors to keep everyone healthy and retain services across government and industry," Macfarlane said in an emailed statement.
But reducing the number of pharmacies providing clinics "is not anticipated to impact vaccination rates at this juncture," he said, noting demand has been "significantly reduced."
"Vaccinations have relied on a multitude of delivery streams throughout the course of the vaccination campaign, including the participation of pharmacies, regional health authorities clinics as well as employer and school-based clinics, which will continue as needed as we transition into green and living with COVID-19," he added.
12 active cases
The four new cases of COVID-19 confirmed on Thursday include:
Saint John region, Zone 2, one case:
A person 80 to 89
This case is a contact of a previous case.
Bathurst region, Zone 6, three cases:
Two people under 19
A person 40 to 49
All three cases are travel-related.
The province's active case count now stands at 12.
No one is hospitalized with the respiratory disease.
There have been 2,358 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province since the pandemic began, with 2,299 recoveries so far and 46 COVID-related deaths.
A total of 379,699 COVID tests have been conducted.
Atlantic COVID roundup
Nova Scotia reported one new case of COVID-19 on Thursday, for a total of 10 active cases.
Prince Edward Island reported two new cases, but they won't be included in the province's active case count because the infected people are not permanent residents of the Island.
Newfoundland and Labrador is now updating its COVID-19 case numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only. As of the last report, the province had two active cases.
Possible COVID exposure
Public Health has identified a possible exposure to COVID-19. Someone who tested positive may have been infectious while travelling on the following WestJet flights on July 19:
Flight 3461 – from Ottawa to Toronto, departed at 10 a.m.
Flight 3404 – from Toronto to Fredericton, departed at 3:40 p.m.
People who travelled on these flights should self-monitor for symptoms, and if any develop, should self-isolate and take the self-assessment online or call Tele-Care 811 to get tested.
A detailed list of potential exposures, including the locations and dates, is available on the government's COVID-19 website. It is updated regularly.
Public Health offers COVID-19 testing to anyone who has been in a public exposure area, even if they are not experiencing any symptoms.
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.