New Brunswick reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and announced 45 per cent of vaccine appointments at regional health authority clinics in the next few days remain unbooked.
Health Minister Dorothy Shephard encouraged anyone eligible who hasn't already done so to get their shot.
"If we want to hit our first goal and move into the first phase on our path to green by next Monday, June 7, we all need to contribute by rolling up our sleeves," she said during the COVID-19 briefing.
The plan lays out a gradual loosening of Public Health measures, leading up to Aug. 2, New Brunswick Day, when all restrictions could be lifted.
Phase 1 includes, among other things, a partial Atlantic bubble, eased travel restrictions for workers, and elimination of the steady 15 of contacts.
This is your call to arms. - Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health
As of Wednesday afternoon, 64.5 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 or over have been vaccinated with at least one dose.
With only five days left, that means the province has to vaccinate roughly 14,400 people a day — nearly double its average over the past week. If the province includes vaccinations being done on the 7th, that still means more than 12,000 shots a day.
"This is your call to arms," said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell. "We need your arms to fill those clinics."
The high vacancy rate at the upcoming Horizon and Vitalité Health Network clinics should not be interpreted as vaccine hesitancy, Russell told reporters.
More clinics have been added so more appointments have become available, she said. "We're just letting you know how many are vacant right now and get signed up. Go make an appointment."
Shephard acknowledged 75 per cent is a "lofty goal" but "extremely achievable."
"Just imagine what this summer could look like if every New Brunswicker does their part," she said.
"We could all enjoy warm days spent with loved ones who we haven't been able to hug for more than a year. Many of the activities we once took for granted could be possible once again, sooner than we ever imagined."
Asked what will happen if the province doesn't reach 75 per cent, Shephard said she doesn't think they've "delineated exactly what will happen."
But she said if it falls short, she doesn't think it will be "far off the mark."
The province will be watching the numbers closely over the next few days, she said.
"I'm quite confident we're going to get there." New Brunswickers will "step up."
Earlier Wednesday, Premier Blaine Higgs told reporters walk-in appointments could soon become an option. "Maybe we'll even get to a drive-thru."
Higgs maintains the province's vaccination targets are "very realistic."
"It's going to be tight, but it's certainly possible," he said. "Then it just becomes making it more convenient for people."
He spoke to Public Health about the issue Tuesday night and the COVID cabinet team is scheduled to meet Wednesday night, he said.
140 active cases
New Brunswick has 140 active cases of COVID-19, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Monday.
Six people are hospitalized in New Brunswick, including one in an intensive care unit, she said. One New Brunswicker is also hospitalized out of province in an intensive care unit.
The breakdown of the 12 new cases announced Monday is as follows:
Moncton region, Zone 1, three cases:
Two people 50-59
A person 70-79
All three cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases.
Saint John region, Zone 2, one case:
A person 20-29
This case is travel-related.
Fredericton region, Zone 3, four cases:
Two people 20-29
A person 60-69
A person 70-79
Three cases are under investigation and one is a contact of a previously confirmed case.
Bathurst region, Zone 6, four cases:
A person 19 or under
A person 20-29
A person 30-39
A person 70-79
All four cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases.
A total of 338,414 tests have been conducted, including 2,500 on Tuesday
New Brunswick has had 2,227 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with 2,043 recoveries and 43 COVID-related deaths.
Province seeks to include vaccinated snowbirds in total
New Brunswick is looking into how to count snowbirds and other residents who have been vaccinated outside the province toward its 75 per cent vaccination goal, said Premier Blaine Higgs.
Asked Tuesday whether the province will count residents who are not in the province, but have been vaccinated, Higgs told CBC News: "Yes, indeed. If they're residents of the province and they're coming home, we would indeed count them."
He has asked for information regarding people who have been out of the country, he said.
"We can track that, I believe, to some degree. So we've asked for a count on that."
Asked if there's a danger of those individuals being counted twice, in both places, Higgs said: "If they've been counted because they've been vaccinated in Florida and then they're counted because they're back home in New Brunswick, that probably won't matter much."
When Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell was asked during the COVID briefing Wednesday whether Public Health supports this approach, and whether it will skew the data, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard answered in her place.
She said many New Brunswickers spend the winter months outside the province. "If they have been vaccinated outside the province, we do need to include them in our numbers so that we have an accurate reflection of all those 12 and over who have been vaccinated."
Pressed further on whether the 75 per cent goal is based on so-called herd immunity, where having a certain proportion of the population vaccinated protects others who aren't immunized, and what impact counting people who aren't physically in the province will have, Shephard again answered instead of Russell.
"It's my understanding that we are targeting data that will confirm those who have been out of province and received vaccination out of province and have come back to the province. We want to include those individuals," she clarified.
Department of Health spokesperson Shawn Berry said the province will have more details to share soon on how people vaccinated outside the province can report their vaccination status.
2nd doses for AstraZeneca recipients
New Brunswickers who received an AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine as their first dose and want a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine as their second dose can expect more information next week, Public Health said Wednesday.
The province plans to release information on receiving second doses for all New Brunswickers at that time.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, said the province has faced "lots of questions" from people who are AstraZeneca recipients, particularly those under the age of 55.
The province suspended the use of AstraZeneca for that age group in March, due to concerns over rare but potentially deadly blood clots associated with the vaccine.
Two New Brunswickers have died from vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia, or VITT, after getting the AstraZeneca vaccine. Two others also suffered blood clots following vaccination, but recovered.
"When the time comes for your second dose, you will be able to receive an mRNA vaccine manufactured by either Pfizer or Moderna, which make up the vast majority of the vaccine supply that we are using here in New Brunswick, but also in the rest of Canada," said Russell.
Public Health has updated its advice on mixing and matching vaccines, following new recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).
"This new advice suggests that these vaccines are interchangeable without loss of effectiveness," said Russell. "This allows us to provide more options when administering second doses, while still giving New Brunswickers maximum protection against COVID-19," she said.
The province has about 4,000 doses of AstraZeneca in stock, which were set to expire May 31, but have been extended by Health Canada until July 1.
Asked how concerned the province is those doses might go to waste, Russell replied: "It's difficult to predict at this point what people will choose.
"We just want to make people aware that they can choose and we'll just see how things unfold."
Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said "many" people who received AstraZeneca as their first dose want it as their second dose.
People 55 or over who received AstraZeneca as a first dose at least eight weeks ago can receive it as their second dose now, if they provide their informed consent.
About 43,000 New Brunswickers received AstraZeneca as their first dose.
Pop-up testing in Nackawic
The Horizon Health Network is offering a temporary COVID-19 testing clinic in Nackawic.
The clinic will operate by appointment only from Thursday to Sunday, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., the regional health authority posted on social media.
Nackawic residents who have not yet received their first dose of a COVID vaccine are also being encouraged to book an appointment at the Horizon clinic on June 7 in Woodstock.
Nackawic Senior High School students will have online learning Thursday and Friday, Public Health said in a news release. "School staff will contact families directly should there be any further impact on learning."
Atlantic COVID roundup
Nova Scotia reported 17 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and two new COVID-related deaths, both men in their 60s. The province has 311 active cases, including 15 people in intensive care units.
Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed 17 new cases of COVID-19, putting its total active cases at 90.
Prince Edward Island has no new cases and has four active cases.
New public exposures
Public Health has identified numerous new potential public exposures to the coronavirus in 10 communities, so many that it stopped listing them individually in its daily news release Wednesday, opting instead to list only the communities. These include:
Pointe-Sapin in Zone 1 (Moncton region)
Oromocto in Zone 3 (Fredericton region)
Fredericton in Zone 3 (Fredericton region)
Saint-Quentin in Zone 4 (Edmundston region)
Petite-Rivière-de-I'lle in Zone 6 (Bathurst region)
Tracadie in Zone 6 (Bathurst region)
Lamèque in Zone 6 (Bathurst region)
Haut-Lamèque in Zone 6 (Bathurst region)
Shippagan in Zone 6 (Bathurst region)
Miramichi in Zone 7 (Miramichi region)
A detailed list of the potential exposures, including the locations and dates, is available on the government's COVID-19 website. It is updated regularly.
Public Health is offering COVID-19 testing to anyone who has been in a public exposure area, even if they are not experiencing any symptoms. Residents may request a test online or call Tele-Care 811.
People experiencing one or more symptoms are also encouraged to get tested.
Previous public exposures
Public Health previously reported the following potential public exposures:
RV Insurance, 111 King. St, Woodstock, on May 14.
Carquest, 68 Scott St., Hartford, on May 14, May 15 and May 25.
Murray's Irving, 198 Beardsley Rd., Beardsley, on May 15.
Canadian Tire, 1110 Smythe St., Fredericton, on May 15.
Nackawic Grab N Go Irving, 467 Route 105, on May 18, on May 24, and May 25.
Tow Tech Equipment, 150 Main St., Bath, on May 20.
Zealand Grab N Go Irving, 104 Zealand Rd., on May 22.
River Valley Automotive, 445 Route 105, Nackawic, on May 26.
Kedmar Ventures Ltd., 4669 Route 105, Upper Queensbury, on May 28.
Terry LeClair Auto Body Towing, 4818 Route 105, Nackawic, May 13-May 28.
Kent Building Supplies, 809 Bishop Dr., Fredericton, on May 23 between noon and 5 p.m
Lincoln Big Stop, 415 Nevers Rd., Waasis on May 26, between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Irving, 1769 Lincoln Rd., Fredericton, on May 26, between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Sobeys, 375 Miramichi Rd., Oromocto, on May 28, between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Canadian Tire, 345 Miramichi Rd., Oromocto, on May 28, between 10 a.m. and noon.
Sobeys, Miramichi Road, Oromocto, on May 25 between 11 a.m. and 1p.m.
Shoppers Drug Mart, 1198 Onondaga St, Oromocto, May 23 between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.
Dollarama, Oromocto Mall, May 23 between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Atlantic Superstore, Oromocto Mall, May 23 between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Day & Ross Freight Terminal, 11187 Route 130, Somerville, May 22
Kingswood Entertainment Centre, 1700 Kingswood Way, Hanwellm on May 22 between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Service New Brunswick, 432 Queen St., Fredericton, May 21 between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Day & Ross Freight Terminal, 398 Main St., Hartland, on May 21
Day & Ross, 414 York St., Fredericton, on May 18,19 and 21
Costco, 25 Wayne Squibb Blvd., on May 21, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
The Head Shoppe, 1381 Regent St., Fredericton, on May 21 between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Dollarama, 1033 Prospect St., on May 21, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Giant Tiger, 1160 Smythe St., on May 21 between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Day & Ross Freight Terminal, 398 Main St., Hartland, May 17-20
Downtown Optometry Clinic, 169 Dundonald St., Fredericton, May 20 between 4:30 and 8 p.m.
Naturally Fit Gym, 125 NB-105, Lower Saint-Mary's, May 20 between 5 p.m. and 11:59 p.m.
Capt. Submarine/Irving Oil, 305 Route 110, West Florenceville, on Thursday, May 20, between 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Atlantic Superstore, 116 Main St., Fredericton on Wednesday, May 19, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Aldo Shoes, 1381 Regent St., on May 19, between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Le Château, 1381 Regent St., on May 19, between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Lawtons Drugs, 1381 Regent St., on May 19 and May 20, between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Home Depot, 1450 Regent St., Fredericton, Wednesday, May 19, between 5 and 7 p.m.
Fadi's Pizza, 312 Main St., Fredericton on Tuesday, May 18, between noon and 2 p.m.
Fredericton Regional Centre, 300 St. Mary's St., on Tuesday, May 18, and Wednesday, May 19, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Petro Canada, 20 Royal Rd., Fredericton, on Tuesday, May 18, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Fredericton YMCA daycare, 570 York St., Fredericton, on Tuesday, May 18, and Wednesday, May 19
The Reps Gym, 401 Connell St., Woodstock, on May 17 to May 19 between 8 p.m. and midnight.
Capitol Building, 114 Queen St., Woodstock, on May 17 to May 19.
Scholten's, 325 Sunset Dr., Fredericton, on May 17 between 4 and 8 p.m.
Walmart, 125 Two Nations Crossing, Fredericton on Monday, May 17, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Dollarama, 125 Two Nations Crossing, Fredericton on Monday, May 17, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sobeys Fast Fuel, 530 Brookside Dr., Fredericton on Monday, May 17, between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Walmart Supercentre, 1399 Regent St., Fredericton on Sunday, May 16, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Shoppers Drug Mart, 1040 Prospect St., Fredericton on Sunday, May 16, between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Christ Church (Parish) Church, 245 Westmorland St., Fredericton, Sunday, May 16, 10:30 a.m. service.
Hope City Church, 429 Clements Dr., Fredericton, on Sunday, May 16, 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. services.
Atlantic Superstore, 116 Main St., Fredericton, on May 16 between 9 and 11 a.m.
Crowne Plaza Fredericton, 659 Queen St., Fredericton, on May 15 between 3 p.m. and May 16 at noon.
Crowne Plaza Fredericton, 659 Queen St., between 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, and noon on Sunday, May 16.
Castle Building Supplies, 24B Columbus St., Perth-Andover, on May 14 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., and May 20 between noon and 5:30 p.m.
Arthurette General Store, 1450 Route 109, Red Rapids, on May 11 between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., May 16 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., and May 21 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Save Easy, A-24 Columbus St., Perth-Andover, on May 11, May 14, May 15, and May 21 between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
DJ Marine, 3107 Route 117, Pointe-Sapin, May 25-May 28.
Saint Pierre Catholic Church, 2000 Route 535, Cocagne, on Sunday, May 23, 11 a.m. service.
Day & Ross Freight Terminal, 651 Frenette Ave., Moncton, on May 20 and May 22.
Wendy's Restaurant, 85 Harrisville Blvd., Moncton, on May 22 between noon and 8 p.m.
TD Bank, 525 Regis St., Dieppe, on May 22 between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Moxie's Grill and Bar, 10 Wyse St., Moncton, on May 21 between 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Tim Hortons, 750 St. George Blvd., Moncton, on May 21 between 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and May 23 between 8 a.m. and noon.
A&W, 6 Champlain St., Dieppe, on May 21 between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Codiac Transpo City Bus #60, on May 21 between 7:45 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Codiac Transpo City Bus #51, on May 21 between 7:15 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Subway, 100 Morton Ave., Moncton, on May 19 between 8:30 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.
Extreme Windows, 80 Loftus St., Moncton, on May 18, May 19, May 20 and May 21 between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Tim Hortons, 54 Canada St., Saint-Quentin, on May 16, between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Tim Hortons, 1420 Vanier Blvd., Bathurst, on May 16, between 5 and 7 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.
New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell.
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.