Public Health reported no new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and nearly 61 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are now fully vaccinated, while nearly 81 per cent have received at least one dose.
Every age group also has more people who've had two vaccine shots than one, Ray Harris, a data analyst in Fredericton who maintains a COVID-19 tracking website, observed.
People might think otherwise, looking at the bar graph of vaccinations by age group on the province's COVID-19 dashboard, because the first-dose blue bar is higher than the second-dose green bar.
But it's important to remember that the blue bar depicts those who had at least one dose and includes everyone who is in the green bar, Harris said.
The province aims to have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine into the arms of 75 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 and older by Aug. 2, New Brunswick Day, to reach the green phase of COVID recovery and lift all restrictions.
That's just 12 days away and, based on Wednesday's numbers, there are still roughly 99,000 people who need their second dose. That means it will take a daily average of more than 8,200 shots to hit the target.
Harris believes it's "possible," but predicts the province will "run a bit long."
The current seven-day daily average for administered second doses is 7,097, which would see the province reach its goal in 14 days, on Aug. 4 — two days late.
"We can make it happen but there's a good chance that we'll slow down," he said, noting it took 17 days to get the final 15 per cent of people immunized with their first doses.
"I've been predicting a slowdown for forever and honestly, I'm surprised that it hasn't happened yet. So I could be wrong," he added.
"That's why I'm like, 'You know what? Let's keep optimistic, maybe we'll just not slow down on this one.'"
The province recorded 7,561 shots administered Tuesday, including 6,464 second doses, which bumped the fully dosed vaccination rate to 60.7, up from 59.7.
The additional 1,097 first doses recorded put the one-dose vaccination rate at 80.8 per cent, up slightly from 80.7.
"I understand that it's summer and we are all ready to put this pandemic behind us, but we're not in a position to do that yet," Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said in a statement.
"If you are eligible to receive your first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and haven't made an appointment, please do so as soon as possible. We have the vaccine and spaces available, now all we need is you."
2nd doses among seniors stalled
Harris said he's "most worried about the seniors." They've been "our most consistent, our most enthusiastic vaccination group."
But the second-dose vaccination rate among those 75 or older is still only in the mid-80 per cent range, he said.
"And they've had plenty of time, plenty of opportunity to go in and get that second dose."
By comparison, three weeks before the Phase 1 goal, the first-dose vaccination rate among the same age group was 91 per cent, Harris said.
"So I ask myself, why aren't we there with them? Why is there still 14 per cent of 80-plus-year-olds who have one dose and haven't gone back for their second dose?"
"What can we do as a province to make it more welcoming to them or to make a more achievable for them to get that second dose?"
The younger demographics have "a bit more catching up to do" because they haven't been eligible to receive a vaccine as long, but it's nice to start seeing that second-dose bar graph fill up, said Harris.
For the other age groups, the vaccination campaign is progressing much as it did for first doses, he said.
"We had a really quick uptake from those that were enthusiastic and from those that were able to and then a good chunk of the population that would go when they were able to make it, when it was convenient to them.
"A lot of these people are working jobs that they can't just necessarily get away from, they're running families that they can't just necessarily get away from.
"So to me, the 60 and lower groups are churning through, as you would expect them to. And we just got to hold our breath and hope that they keep filing in."
Numerous walk-in clinics
New Brunswickers aged 12 and older who have yet to be immunized with two doses of vaccine are encouraged to book an appointment online through a Horizon or Vitalité health network clinic or through a participating pharmacy. People are eligible for their second dose 28 days after their first.
The following walk-in clinics are underway Wednesday and, in some cases, will end before the stated time if supplies run out, said Department of Health spokesperson Shawn Berry, encouraging people to arrive early:
Moncton, Moncton Coliseum, 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. (18 years and older – Moderna)
Kouchibouguac, Community Centre, 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. or while supplies last (18 years and older – Moderna)
Saint-Jacques, Knights of Columbus hall, 1 p.m. - while supplies last (18 years and older-Moderna)
Campbellton, Regional Hospital, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (12 and older Pfizer-BioNTech)
Miramichi, Exihibition Building, 11 a.m. - while supplies last (12 and older Pfizer-BioNTech)
Saint John, Exihibition Park, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. or while supplies last (12 and older Pfizer-BioNTech)
There are also two pop-up walk-in Moderna clinics underway Wednesday.
Village of Gagetown — Recreation Centre, 38 Mill Rd., between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Sainte-Anne-de-Madawaska — Municipal Hall, 75 Rue Principale, between noon and 6 p.m.
People are asked to bring their Medicare card, a signed consent form and, for those receiving a second dose, a copy of the record of immunization they received after getting their first dose.
Anyone who booked an appointment but was able to get vaccinated sooner elsewhere is asked to cancel the appointment they no longer need.
7 active cases
Public Health reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, putting the province's active case count at seven.
No one is hospitalized with the respiratory disease.
New Brunswick has had 2,346 confirmed cases of COVID during the pandemic. There have been 2,292 recoveries so far and 46 COVID-related deaths.
A total of 375,492 tests had been conducted, including 1,174 on Tuesday.
Chambers of commerce get 48,000 rapid tests
A total of 48,000 self-screening COVID-19 rapid test kits have been sent to four chambers of commerce across the province to distribute to small- and medium-sized businesses as part of a national program, Department of Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane said Wednesday.
The chambers of commerce must submit results weekly to Public Health, but there have been no positive results to date, Macfarlane said.
"Businesses are starting to enrol so we are only going to receive results on how many tests sometime this week," he said in an emailed statement.
Businesses can apply to the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, the Saint John Region Chamber of Commerce and the Edmundston Region Chamber of Commerce to obtain the free rapid antigen screening kits so they can regularly test their employees.
The goal is to proactively identify asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic workers and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces and communities.
The rapid tests do not replace the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests administered by Public Health, which are considered the gold standard in diagnostic testing.
The Chambers of Commerce Rapid Testing Initiative is being done in partnership with Health Canada and the provincial government.
"Testing has been a cornerstone of the pandemic response and will continue to be important as New Brunswick shifts to living with COVID-19 as a respiratory illness," Public Health said in a news release Wednesday.
Atlantic COVID roundup
Nova Scotia reported seven new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, including two cases on HMCS Halifax previously reported by the Canadian Armed Forces. There are now 11 active cases in the province.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases Wednesday and has no active cases. There are 46 active cases aboard three ships, one off the coast of Bay Bulls and two anchored in Conception Bay.
Prince Edward Island has no known active cases of COVID-19.
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 Tele-Care 811 or their doctor, and follow instructions.