The province recorded 39 new cases of COVID-19 over the past three days, has three people in hospital, including one in intensive care, and has now reached its goal of having 75 per cent of New Brunswickers age 12 or older fully vaccinated.
The original target date was Aug. 2.
"This is wonderfully encouraging news," Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said of reaching the milestone. "Becoming fully vaccinated is absolutely the best means of preventing a COVID-19 infection and today we can say that three-quarters of those eligible have achieved this level of protection."
More than 6,000 doses of vaccine were administered across the province over the weekend, pushing the double-dose rate up from 74.5 per cent on Friday.
In addition a total of 84.4 per cent of the eligible population has now received at least one dose of vaccine, up from 84.1 per cent.
"New Brunswickers should be proud of this significant accomplishment," Shephard said in a statement.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, attributed the small number of hospitalizations to the high percentage of vaccinations.
Since July 1, 384 of the province's 427 cases – or 90 per cent – were not fully vaccinated, she said.
"We are committed to getting this vaccination rate even higher."
The 75 per cent target was initially meant to trigger the move to the green phase of COVID recovery and lifting of all Public Health restrictions, such as mandatory masks and limits on gatherings.
But on July 23, Premier Blaine Higgs announced the restrictions would end on July 30, regardless of the vaccination rate.
Since then, the pace of vaccinations has slowed.
Higgs recently acknowledged that abandoning the threshold might have taken away an incentive for people to get their shots.
"It may have," he told reporters. "I guess I wouldn't deny that. People would have said 'OK, we must be fine.' "
But he said it was important to balance the risk of infection with people's mental well-being and the chance they might ignore the rules to see friends and family.
Public Health said Monday that more people are booking appointments across the province, particularly those in the 12-17 and the 18-30 age groups. Walk-in traffic at vaccination clinics is also high, according to a news release.
Now that Health Canada has approved the use of the Moderna vaccine in youth 12 to 17 years old, including those who turn 12 this year, there will be more options to get this group fully vaccinated, said Russell.
The regional health authorities will start offering youth appointments with the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday, she said.
Last Friday, Health Canada deemed Moderna "safe and effective" at preventing COVID-19 in youth aged 12 to 17.
Moderna was previously authorized for use only in people 18 and older. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had been the only vaccine approved in Canada for those between 12 and 18.
A list of upcoming pop-up and walk-in clinics is available online.
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.
Breakdown of the new cases
Of the 39 new cases reported on Monday, 17 were confirmed on Saturday, 10 on Sunday and 12 on Monday, Public Health said.
An equal number of recoveries happened during that period, keeping the province's total active case count at 160.
The new cases break down this way:
Moncton region, Zone 1, eight cases:
Four people 19 or under
A person 30 to 39
Two people 40 to 49
A person 60 to 69
Five of these cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and three are under investigation.
Saint John region, Zone 2, one case:
A person 30 to 39
This case is under investigation.
Fredericton region, Zone 3, 17 cases:
Five people 20 to 29
Seven people 30 to 39
Two people 40 to 49
A person 50 to 59
Two people 70 to 79
Twelve of these cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases, three are travel-related and two are under investigation.
Edmundston region, Zone 4, 10 cases:
Four people 19 of under
Two people 30 to 39
A person 40 to 49
Three people 50 to 59
Eight of these cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases and two are under investigation.
Campbellton region, Zone 5, two cases:
Two people 20 to 29
Both are contacts of previously confirmed cases.
Bathurst region, Zone 6, one case:
A person 60 to 69
This case is under investigation.
New Brunswick has had 2,760 confirmed cases of COVID since the pandemic began, with 2,553 recoveries so far and 46 COVID-related deaths.
A total of 409,019 tests have been conducted, including 2,843 since Friday.
Vaccine passports unlikely to boost vaccination rates, says scientist
A behavioural scientist says implementing COVID-19 vaccine passports would do little to boost New Brunswick's vaccination rates, but they could help protect unvaccinated people from contracting the virus.
The provincial government will decide within three weeks whether to introduce vaccine passports, which could restrict what unvaccinated people can do in everyday life, Premier Blaine Higgs told CBC last Friday. The program would require proof of vaccination to gain access to certain social and recreational activities.
Simon Bacon, a behavioural medicine professor at Concordia University in Montreal, who studies how people respond to public health policy, says it's unlikely that would persuade people who are still unvaccinated to get their shots.
They fall into two main groups, he said. The first is made up of those who are vaccine-resistant, and they're a relatively small percentage of the total population.
"So these are sort of the conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers. … It's about maximum 10 per cent. And nothing you're going to do is going to be able to convince these people."
In the other main group are the vaccine-hesitant, who make up between 15 and 25 per cent of the population, depending on a variety of factors, including age demographic.
A recent study looking at various aspects of COVID, called iCARE, found what influences the decisions of this group are concerns about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, he said.
"And of course, a vaccine passport doesn't really address either of those."
Bacon said there are probably some people among the vaccine-hesitant who just haven't gotten around to getting their shots yet for various reasons, such as summer holidays, or convenience. The passports might convince those people to roll up their sleeves, but they would represent "a small percentage," he said, in the range of five per cent or less.
That safety aspect is hugely important and is often underplayed. - Simon Bacon, behavioural scientist
The real benefit of passports, according to Bacon, is protecting unvaccinated people by keeping them out of "high-risk" situations, such as restaurants, bars, nightclubs and gyms.
"These are all places where you have lots of people in a small enclosed space," he said. "So if you put someone who's unvaccinated in that environment, they have a very large probability of catching and then becoming sick from COVID."
Although the vaccine is effective at keeping most people out of the hospital, some vaccinated people do still contract the virus and can spread it to other people, he said.
About 90 per cent of all hospitalizations are among people who aren't fully vaccinated.
"That safety aspect is hugely important and is often underplayed," said Bacon.
If New Brunswick or other jurisdictions want to boost vaccination rates, they should consider addressing concerns about safety and efficacy, said Bacon.
He said a lot of governments haven't done well at providing "digestible" information, and many have stopped altogether, Bacon said that's a shame as new data shows the vaccines are "very, very safe."
He pointed to a study published last week in the New England Journal Medicine, which found the probability of having complications like blood clots was almost four to 15 times greater in people who contracted COVID-19 than in those who were vaccinated.
New U.S.-based studies on incentives, such as lotteries awarding prizes to people who get vaccinated, indicate they had no impact, he said.
"If you think about it, incentives really don't still get at this issue of safety and efficacy."
Incentives can backfire
Incentives can also have the opposite effect, warned Bacon. The iCARE study showed many people got vaccinated for altruistic reasons, such as to protect close family members, or because it was the right thing to do for the population.
Offering incentives can "eat away" at that and raise questions, he said. People may say, "Well geez, if this is such a good thing, why are you trying to bribe me into doing it?"
In Quebec, vaccination passports will become mandatory for some activities starting Sept. 1.
British Columbia will require proof of vaccination for some social and recreational venues and events starting Sept. 13.
Ontario is expected to introduce a vaccine passport program this week.
YMCA of Greater Moncton introduces mandatory vaccination
All YMCA of Greater Moncton staff and program volunteers must be fully vaccinated, or be masked at all times and tested twice weekly at their own expense and on their own time, effective immediately.
CEO Zane Korytko announced the new vaccination policy in an email to staff and volunteers Monday morning. It was developed after consultation with YMCAs across Canada, and in conjunction with the YMCA Canada Vaccine Task Force, he said.
"The delta variant, driving the fourth wave in Canada, is highly contagious and impacting children more than previous strains," Korytko wrote. "As children under 12 are not eligible for vaccination at this time, this recommendation aligns with our commitment to doing everything we can to protect the health and safety of children at the YMCA."
Staff and volunteers must now provide proof of vaccination to their supervisor.
Those who have not been fully vaccinated must wear a mask at all times — in programs, common areas and participating as members in YMCA facilities.
They must also submit two negative COVID tests weekly, on Monday and Thursday mornings.
"Test costs are the responsibility of the employee/volunteer on their own time," the policy states.
Failure to comply will result in a range of disciplinary actions, including a verbal warning, a written letter, a three-day suspension, and termination.
"Our health and safety measures reflect our commitment to ensuring everyone can safely participate at the YMCA," the policy says. "This includes children under 12 who are not currently eligible for vaccines, our vulnerable population, those at increased risk from COVID-19, and those who may not be able to be vaccinated for health or other reasons.
"It is strongly recommended that all eligible staff and volunteers get fully vaccinated as soon as possible."
Staff and program volunteers are required to sign a document saying they've read the policy and, "I understand my responsibility and the actions required by me."
The policy is subject to Public Health, Education and Early Childhood Development and the New Brunswick government mandates and "can change at any time," it notes.
Although the mask mandate has been lifted during the green phase, staff and program volunteers who are fully vaccinated are encouraged to follow all recommended Public Health directives, "including their right to wear a mask."
The YMCA facilities in Moncton include the YMCA North End and YMCA Vaughan Harvey.
New possible exposures
Public Health has identified three new places in New Brunswick where people may have been exposed to the coronavirus:
Moncton region, Zone 1:
Aug. 28 between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. – Superstore, 165 Main St., Moncton
Aug. 28 between 1:15 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. – Dollarama, 105 Main St., Moncton
Aug. 27 between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. – Costco, 140 Granite Dr., Moncton
Aug. 25 between 8 p.m. and midnight – Miss Cue, 459 Mountain Rd., Moncton
Saint John region, Zone 2:
Aug. 26 between 8:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. – O'Leary's Pub, 46 Princess St., Saint John
Edmundston region, Zone 4:
Aug. 26 – Marché Bonichoix Saint-Quentin, 145 Canada Rd., Saint-Quentin
Aug. 25 and 26 between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. – Hotel Dieu Saint-Joseph de Saint-Quentin Hospital, 21 Canada Rd., Saint-Quentin
Aug. 18 between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. – Piste Athlétisme Robert Thibault, 210 Mgr Martin-Est Rd., Saint-Quentin
Campbellton region, Zone 5:
Aug. 24 – Sport Expert, 100 Roseberry St., Campbellton
Aug. 24 between 9:30 a.m. to noon – Sugarloaf Mall, 312 Val D'amour Rd., Campbellton
Aug. 24 at 8:30 a.m. – Circle K Irving, 143 Val D'Amour Rd., Campbellton
Bathurst region, Zone 6:
Aug. 24 between 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. – Bathurst Mall, 1300 St-Pierre Rd., Bathurst
Aug. 24 between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. – Dixie Lee Restaurant, 1224 St. Peter Ave., Bathurst
Aug. 24 between 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. – Marshall's, 700 St. Peter Ave., Bathurst
Aug. 24 between 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. – Aubainerie Bathurst, 1300 St. Peter Ave., Bathurst
Public Health recommends that people who have been at a possible public exposure site and are not fully vaccinated get a COVID test, said Department of Health spokesperson Gail Harding. They can book an appointment online or call Tele-Care 811.
For people who are fully vaccinated, Public Health recommends they monitor for symptoms and get a COVID test if symptoms develop.
Anyone who frequented the locations at the specified dates and times should also avoid visiting settings with vulnerable populations such as nursing homes, correctional facilities, and shelters for the next 14 days.
Atlantic COVID roundup
Nova Scotia reported 31 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, putting the province's active case count at 71. The new data includes figures from Friday and the weekend.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported seven new cases and has 21 active cases.
Prince Edward Island reported five new cases Friday, all related to travel. The province had eight active cases.
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 flights:
Aug. 24 – Air Canada Flight 8904 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 8 p.m.
Aug. 19 – Air Canada Flight 7548 – from Toronto to Fredericton
Aug. 19 – Air Canada Flight 8902 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 1:38 p.m.
Aug. 17 – Air Canada Flight 8902 – from Montreal to Moncton
Aug. 17 – Air Canada Flight 8506 – from Montreal to Fredericton, departed 7:45 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.
Aug. 24 between 5:47 p.m. and 3:52 a.m. – Moncton City Hospital Emergency Room, 135 Macbeath Ave., Moncton
Aug. 22 between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. – Dixie Lee Family Restaurant, 9369 Main St., Richibucto
Aug. 22 between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. – St. James' Gate, 200 Golf St., Dieppe
Aug. 20 between 10:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. – Casino NB, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Aug. 20 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. – Costco Wholesale Moncton, 140 Granite Dr., Moncton
Aug. 20 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. – Guy's Frenchys, 1567 Mountain Rd., Moncton
Aug. 20 between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. – Pump House Restaurant, 51 Orange Lane, Moncton
Aug. 15 between 7:45 a.m. and 8:45 a.m., Aug. 17 between noon and 1 p.m., Aug.18 between noon and 1 p.m. and Aug. 19 between noon and 1 p.m. – Route 51 Green Line and Route 62 Hildegard Codiac Transpo, 140 Millennium Blvd., Moncton
Aug. 18 between 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. – Igloo Bar, 300 Elmwood Dr., Moncton
Aug.18 between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Aug, 16 between 8:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., Aug. 13 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Aug. 11 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Aug. 10 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. - Crowne Plaza Moncton, 1005 Main St., Moncton
Aug. 17 between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. – Tide and Boar Brewing, 1355 Main St., Moncton
Aug. 16 between 5 and 7 p.m. – Boathouse Restaurant, 8588 Main St., Alma
Aug. 16 between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. – Burger King, 465 Paul St., Dieppe
Aug. 16 between 12 p.m and 7 p.m – Magic Mountain Water Park, 2875 Mountain Rd., Moncton
Aug. 15 between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. – Jean's Restaurant, 1999 Mountain Rd., Moncton
Saint John region, Zone 2:
Aug. 17 and 18 – Fairway Inn and JJ's Diner, 216 Roachville Rd., Sussex
Aug. 17 between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.– On the Vine Produce, 1350 Hickey Rd., Saint John
Aug. 17 between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.– Greco, 1350 Hickey Rd., Saint John
Aug. 16 between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. – Gateway Mall, 138 Main St., Sussex
Aug. 15 between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.– Costco Wholesale Saint John, 300 Retail Dr., Saint John
Fredericton region, Zone 3:
Aug. 22 between 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. – Riverbend Golf Course, 541 Route 628, Durham Bridge
Aug. 21 between noon and 2 p.m. – Boston Pizza, 1230 Prospect St., Fredericton
Aug. 20 between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. – Ayr Motor Centre, 105 Connell Park Rd., Woodstock
Aug. 19 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. – Ayr Motor Centre, 105 Connell Park Rd., Woodstock
Aug. 19 between 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. – Fredericton International Airport, arrivals area, 2570 Route 102 Highway, Lincoln
Aug. 18 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. – Carleton County Court House, 19 Court St., Upper Woodstock
Aug. 11, 12, 13, 16, and 17 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. – Springhill Infrastructure Asphalt, 940 Springhill Rd., Fredericton
Aug. 15 between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. – Grand Falls Cataracts, Baseball Diamond between Chapel Rd and Victoria Rd, Grand Falls
Edmundston region, Zone 4
Between Aug. 20 and Aug. 27 – Camping St-Léonard, 470 Route 17, St Léonard
Between Aug. 20 and Aug. 27 – Pinky's Roadside Diner, 470 Route 17, St Léonard
Campbellton region, Zone 5:
Aug. 24 between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. - Inch Aaran Park, 125 Inch Arran Ave., Dalhousie
Bathurst region, Zone 6:
Aug. 21 between midnight and 3 a.m. – Party à la Youpi with DJ Saulnier, Army Camp, Leech
Aug. 18 and 19 – Camping et Aquaparc de la Rivière Tracadie, 3205 Alcide Rd., Tracadie
Aug. 18 between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. – Nigadoo Falls Trail, Nigadoo
Aug. 16 between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. – La Trappe, Vieux Couvent, Caraquet
Aug. 15 between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – La Brôkerie, 39 du Carr Ave., Caraquet
Miramichi region, Zone 7:
Aug. 22 between 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. – Gallan's Miramichi River Tubing, 48 Kersey Lane, Doyles Brook
Aug. 19 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. – Sailor and Jane Eatery, 1 Jane St., Miramichi
Aug. 19 between 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – Jean Coutu Pharmacy, 4 Johnson Ave., Miramichi
Aug. 19 between 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – Gallan's Miramichi River Tubing, 48 Kersey Lane, Doyles Brook
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.