HALIFAX — Nova Scotia opened COVID-19 vaccine appointments to people 30 and older on Monday, and health officials said they hoped to lower that age to 12 by next week.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang told reporters the province's vaccine program is ramping up and officials should be able to administer 72,000 doses of vaccine this week alone.
"Today marks the beginning of a big week on the vaccine front," Strang said. "We hope to open to all remaining age groups by next week."
About 64,300 Nova Scotians in the 30-to-34 age group are eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines.
The announcement came as the province reported 91 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.
Nova Scotia had opened vaccine appointments to people as young as 35 on Friday. Its vaccine rollout expands access in descending order of five-year age groups as supply becomes available.
Strang said to date, 40 per cent of the province's population has received one or more doses of vaccine, but he cautioned that Nova Scotia's "magic number" is to get 75 per cent of the entire population vaccinated.
As of Sunday, the province had administered 430,856 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 39,235 people having received their booster shot.
"To hit our target … we need 85 per cent of eligible Nova Scotians to get their vaccine," Strang said.
He issued a challenge to younger age groups to go out and get a shot in large numbers in order to keep the province on track to meet its target.
Meanwhile, Premier Iain Rankin said he and other eastern Canadian premiers are exploring the possibility of receiving excess vaccine from the United States.
Rankin said he met with New England governors earlier on Monday, adding that he and the governors sent letters to the Canadian and United States governments asking that extra vaccine be used to help open the border between the two countries more quickly.
Nova Scotia's case count on Monday included 66 infections identified in the Halifax area, 17 in the province's eastern zone, five in the northern zone and three in the western region. The province has 1,435 active reported cases of COVID-19 and 95 people in hospital with the disease, including 21 in intensive care.
The other areas of virus activity outside Halifax include Bridgewater, N.S., and the Annapolis Valley, but Strang said the Sydney, N.S., area is his greatest concern because fewer people are being tested.
Health officials said two more patients at the Halifax Infirmary site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre have tested positive for COVID-19 and have been transferred to the hospital's COVID-19 unit.
Dr. Brendan Carr, CEO of Nova Scotia Health, said 12 patients and four staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. "We don't yet know the source of the infection," Carr told reporters.
Nova Scotia reported 126 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and 86 on Saturday. Saturday's case count was the first time since May 1 that the province's daily reported figure dipped below 100.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2021.
Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press