N.B. COVID-19 roundup: 0 new cases, low weekend vaccination rates put Aug. 2 reopening in doubt

·8 min read
More mobile walk-in Moderna vaccination clinics are being held across New Brunswick this week in a bid to boost the province's vaccination rates. (Travis Kingdon/CBC - image credit)
More mobile walk-in Moderna vaccination clinics are being held across New Brunswick this week in a bid to boost the province's vaccination rates. (Travis Kingdon/CBC - image credit)

New Brunswick reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, but low vaccination rates over the weekend have raised doubts the province will reach its goal of having a certain percentage of residents fully vaccinated by Aug. 2, according to one data cruncher.

Only 414 COVID-19 vaccines were administered on Sunday, according to the COVID-19 dashboard — the lowest number since at least March, said Oliver Dueck, a software developer based in Fredericton, who has been tracking the province's vaccine data for the past few months.

Of the doses administered, 371 were second doses and 43 were first doses, he said.

A total of 58.1 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 or older are now fully vaccinated, while 80.4 per cent have received at least one dose.

On Saturday, just 1,233 New Brunswickers rolled up their sleeves to receive their second dose and 227 to get their first shot, the dashboard shows.

The seven-day average of doses administered has now fallen below 8,000 for the first time since June 6, said Dueck.

At the current pace, he predicts the province will hits its path to green target to have 75 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers fully vaccinated two days late, by Aug. 4.

Once the 75 per cent threshold is reached, the province will end the state of emergency mandatory order and lift all Public Health restrictions, provided COVID hospitalizations remain low and all health regions remain at the yellow COVID alert level.

Department of Health officials declined to comment on the projected delayed reopening, the low weekend numbers, or what might be contributing to them.

But spokesperson Shawn Berry did say data from vaccination clinics can take up to 48 hours to be reported to Public Health and displayed on the COVID-19 dashboard.

"This has been the case since we started the [vaccination] campaign," Berry said in an emailed statement. It was mentioned in a March 17 news release and is stated on the dashboard itself, he said.

Berry did not respond to questions about why the results might take so long or how much the numbers might be off by.

"We encourage anyone eligible to book an appointment as soon as they can for their second dose," he said.

Anyone 12 or older is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and anyone who has received a first dose can get a second dose after 28 days.

As of Monday, nearly a quarter of of the people who received a first dose hadn't seized the opportunity to get a second one when they became eligible, according to Dueck. That leaves about 125,000 people who are eligible for their second dose who haven't received it yet, he said.

Government of New Brunswick
Government of New Brunswick

About 23,000 of the people eligible for their second dose are between the ages of 12 and 19, said Berry.

Asked whether limited access to the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine — the only vaccine approved for use in Canada for anyone under 18 — might be contributing to the lower doses administered, he replied: "In every region of the province, there are appointments available at clinics for both the Moderna vaccine and Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, which can be offered to those 12 to 17.

"More vaccine is expected later this week and more appointments will be opened for booking."

Last week, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said the province had been been receiving fewer doses of Pfizer than expected and was using the product it did have to vaccinate youth.

The province expects to receive its "full shipment" of 64,350 doses of Pfizer this week, with another 76,050 doses slated for next week, Russell said.

"We are not anticipating a shortage of this product, and we will continue to offer it and Moderna at our vaccination clinics," she said.

Government of New Brunswick
Government of New Brunswick

The province is holding more mobile walk-in Moderna clinics this week to help make getting first and second doses more convenient.

"Even if you received a different vaccine as your first dose, you can still receive Moderna for your second dose due to the interchangeability of COVID-19 vaccines," Public Health said in a news release.

Clinics were held Monday in Saint John and Drummond.

The other clinics being held this week include:

  • Clair — Saint-Francois-d'Assise, 678 Rue Prinicipale, on Tuesday, between noon and 6 p.m.

  • Village of Gagetown — Recreation Centre, 38 Mill Rd., on Wednesday, between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.

  • Sainte-Anne-de-Madawaska — Municipal Hall, 75 Rue Prinicipale, on Wednesday, between noon and 6 p.m.

  • Kedgwick — La Salle du Citoyen, 4 Saint-Jean St., on Thursday, between noon and 6 p.m.

  • Southampton — Middle Southampton Community Hall, 1782 Route 105, on Thursday, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

  • St. Martins — Four Seasons Complex, 2551 Route 111, on Friday, between noon and 5 p.m.

  • Saint-Léonard — Ambulance New Brunswick station, 523 St-Jean St., Unit A, on Friday, between noon and 6 p.m.

People can book an appointment online through a Horizon or Vitalité health network clinic or through a participating pharmacy.

They 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.

People who booked an appointment but were able to get vaccinated sooner elsewhere are asked to cancel the appointment they no longer need.

Only 14% of AstraZeneca recipients got 2 doses

About 90 per cent of New Brunswickers who received an AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine as their first dose are now fully vaccinated, according to the Department of Health.

Only about 14 per cent of the AstraZeneca recipients received AstraZeneca as their second dose, said department spokesperson Shawn Berry.

About 45 per cent received a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as their second shot, while 31 per cent received Moderna, he said, based on figures as of late last week.

About 43,000 New Brunswickers got AstraZeneca as their first dose, Berry has previously said.

"Anyone who received a first dose of AstraZeneca is eligible to receive an mRNA vaccine as a second dose. For anyone who chooses a second dose of AstraZeneca there are clinics being offered," he said in an emailed statement Monday.

Evan Mitsui/CBC
Evan Mitsui/CBC

The Horizon and Vitalité health networks are holding clinics over the next two weeks for AstraZeneca recipients who wish to receive AstraZeneca as their second dose, with informed consent, Public Health announced last week.

The clinics come as the province has roughly 10,000 doses of AstraZeneca set to expire at the end of August, and approximately 200 more due to expire at the end of October.

Earlier this month, nearly 1,000 doses had to be destroyed because they expired.

New Brunswick has already offered 8,000 of its doses for reallocation by the federal government, Berry said.

"Following the upcoming clinics there will be a better sense of additional doses available [to] identify to the federal government for reallocation."

On June 17, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, or NACI, updated its recommendations to say an mRNA vaccine, such as Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, was "preferred" as a second dose for AstraZeneca recipients, and mitigates the rare risk of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) — a rare condition that causes blood clots combined with low platelets.

Two New Brunswickers have died from VITT after getting the AstraZeneca vaccine. Two others also suffered blood clots following vaccination, but recovered.

The AstraZeneca clinics will be held:

  • July 20 in Miramichi and Campbellton.

  • July 22 in Fredericton.

  • July 23 in Moncton and Bathurst.

  • July 26 in Edmundston, Grand Falls and Saint-Quentin.

  • July 28 in Saint John.

People who are 55 and older can book an appointment online. Those who are under the age of 55 will need to register by calling 1-833-437-1424.

8 active cases

New Brunswick has eight active cases of COVID-19, Public Health reported Monday.

No one is hospitalized with the respiratory disease.

New Brunswick has had 2,346 confirmed cases of COVID during the pandemic. There have been 2,291 recoveries so far and 46 COVID-related deaths.

A total of 373,571 tests have been conducted, including 396 on Sunday.

Atlantic COVID roundup

Nova Scotia reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the active caseload in the province to seven.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, all crew members aboard a ship anchored in Bay Bulls. There are now 50 active cases in the province, but only one is on land, in the Eastern Health region, with the remainder on two ships anchored in Conception Bay.

P.E.I. 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 Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor, and follow instructions.

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