HALIFAX — Nova Scotia reported three new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and released its vaccination plan, which the province said will prioritize front-line health-care workers and long-term care residents and staff.
The province should receive more than one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine over the next six months, health officials said, adding that roughly 200,000 health-care workers and long-term care residents 75 years and older will be first in line until April.
By May, the vaccine should be available to other health-care workers, chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said, adding that the general public is scheduled to have access to the vaccine by the summer.
"What we need to acknowledge and understand is that this is by far the most complex vaccine program that we have ever implemented," Strang said Tuesday. "The product itself is coming in relatively small amounts week by week so our goal is to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible with the product that we will be receiving," Strang added.
Strang said the first phase of the plan will allow the province to figure out the best way to deliver the vaccine. Health officials, he said, will be testing different service delivery models at a small number of community clinics and pharmacies.
"What we learn now in the first few weeks will help us become more agile," Premier Stephen McNeil said. "We know how to move the vaccine and how to quickly get it into the arms of people who need it rather than have it sitting in freezers."
Health authorities said they had administered 2,720 doses of COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday, adding that starting Wednesday, those who received a first injection will begin to receive their booster shot.
John Malcom, former CEO of the Cape Breton district health authority, said in an interview Tuesday that the province's strategy is "overly conservative" and moving too slowly. The government, he said, should not hold back doses for booster shots and should instead vaccinate as many different people as possible with a single dose.
He said authorities should have faith in the word of vaccine companies and trust that the vaccines will be arriving regularly, which would remove the need to hold doses in reserve, he said.
"If they say they're going to be providing x amount of vaccines over the next number of weeks and months, I think you have to take them at their word," Malcom said. "It's a little bit of a risk, but it's a bigger risk not to be immunizing."
To date, Nova Scotia has received slightly fewer than 10,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. That number is expected to grow to 140,000 doses of vaccine by the end of March, officials said.
Meanwhile, health officials said Tuesday three new cases were identified in the central zone; one involves travel outside the Atlantic region while the other two are under investigation.
Strang and McNeil said they were encouraged by the fact the number of new cases in the province continued to drop following restrictions enacted in late November, including a ban on indoor dining.
Nova Scotia said it has 19 active reported cases of COVID-19.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 5, 2021.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
The Canadian Press