New Brunswick children who turn 12 this year are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, the province announced Tuesday, as 15 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, putting the province's total active case count at 167.
Until now, a child had to be 12 years old before becoming eligible.
The expanded eligibility comes just two weeks before students are scheduled to begin returning to school.
"We know that there will continue to be cases in schools in the coming year," Education Minister Dominic Cardy said in a statement. "This change will help support healthy and safe schools by allowing a greater number of students to be vaccinated, particularly in schools with younger children."
He urged everyone eligible to get their shots and help protect the province's schools.
A total of 73.8 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 or older are fully vaccinated, up from 72.7 per cent Monday, while 83.8 per cent have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, down from 84.
Because the provincial government has been tracking the number of people vaccinated as a percentage of the population eligible to receive a vaccine, the addition of the roughly 3,000 children who turn 12 this year makes it appear as though there has been a reduction in the single-dose rate.
Meanwhile, part of the reason for the big jump in the second-dose rate is because "as part of a routine review it was found that 8,159 vaccinations were not recorded across all systems," including about 7,800 second doses, Public Health said in a new release.
"This issue has been rectified and today's vaccination rates on the COVID-19 dashboard have been updated," it said.
Walk-in vaccination clinics offering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is suitable for people 12 and older, are underway Tuesday in several communities:
Woodstock, Ayr Motor Centre, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Oromocto, Hazen Park Centre, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Miramichi Exhibition Building, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Petitcodiac, Royal Canadian Legion, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Shippagan, Centre des congrès de la Péninsule acadienne (Convention Centre of the Acadian Peninsula), 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Walk-in vaccination clinics will also be held Wednesday, as follows:
Saint John, Exhibition Park, 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Pfizer)
Shediac, Public Health Office, 3:15 p.m. to 8 p.m. (Pfizer and Moderna)
On Friday, a pop-up clinic offering Pfizer as first or second doses will take place at Parlee Beach in Shediac between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
A list of upcoming mobile 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.
Anyone age 12 or older is eligible to get a vaccine and can get their second shot 28 days after their first.
Breakdown of the new cases
The 15 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed Tuesday break down this way:
Moncton region, Zone 1, 10 cases:
Four people 19 or under
Two people 20 to 29
Three people 30 to 39
A person 40 to 49
Seven of the cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases, two are travel-related and the other is under investigation.
Fredericton region, Zone 3, two cases:
Two people 19 or under.
Both cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases.
Miramichi region, Zone 7, three cases:
A person 60 to 69
A person 70 to 79
A person 80 to 89
All three of these cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases.
Three people remain in hospital with the respiratory disease.
New Brunswick has reported 2,687 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Since Monday, there have been 21 recoveries, for a total of 2,473 so far, and there have been 46 COVID-related deaths.
A total of 401,531 COVID-19 tests have been conducted to date, including 1,379 on Monday.
Infected Shediac inmates transferred to Saint John
Inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 at the Southeast Regional Correctional Centre in Shediac have been transferred to the Saint John Regional Correctional Centre, the Department of Justice and Public Safety said Tuesday.
The Correction Services COVID management plan stipulates that COVID-positive inmates be housed in a designated unit at either the Saint John or Dalhousie correctional centres, said department spokesperson Coreen Enos.
She did not explain if or how the designated units differ from others, but their use "means no impact on other inmates at the Saint John Correctional Centre," which houses up to 120 inmates.
Public Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak at the Southeast Regional Correctional Centre in Shediac on Monday after four positive cases had been confirmed in both staff and inmates.
"There are no other COVID-19 cases at the Saint John Correctional Centre," only the transferred inmates, Enos said in an emailed statement. She did not say how many.
Correctional centres continue to follow COVID protocols, said Enos.
"Staff continue to wear personal protective equipment as they take their responsibility to protect inmates, employees and the public seriously."
In addition, all new inmates are tested for COVID-19 before joining the general population, she said.
The inmates transferred to Saint John from Shediac will attend court via video conference.
Parts of back-to-school plan 'too broad' for teachers
Some sections of the province's back-to-school plan are too broad and require more detail, the New Brunswick Teachers' Association says.
Education Minister Dominic Cardy released his department's back-to-school plan last week, three weeks before New Brunswick students return to the classroom.
Among other things, the plan says school staff will have to be vaccinated or undergo regular testing, and vaccinations for students 12 or older are strongly encouraged.
All students will be required to wear masks on school buses and in all areas outside their classroom.
Unlike last year, when high school students at most schools attended in person every other day, in-person classes will be back to regular size and every day.
Connie Keating, president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association, said her staff are still analyzing and seeking clarification of the plan on behalf of teachers.
"As we looked through the plan yesterday in detail, certainly we note the plan outlines things in broad strokes," she said Tuesday.
Keating pointed to section in the 14-page plan pertaining to mental health that says "any additional resources put in place for wellness and mental health in the 2020-21 school year will remain available."
She's asking for more details on those resources since they vary from district to district.
She is also hoping the province will seek more input from the teachers' association as the year unfolds about the shortage of teachers across the province.
This is particularly concerning if a teacher has to stay home from work because of COVID-19 symptoms.
"Our focus is on stabilizing the system as much as we can," she said during an interview with Information Morning Fredericton.
This year, she said, teachers will also follow the prioritized, or condensed, curriculum developed for the pandemic.
Last year's school year required some virtual learning and was marked by individual closures or class cancellations because of potential exposure to the coronavirus.
Listen to Public Health
When pressed about whether the back-to-school plan came out soon enough, Keating said that being aware of a plan is most important for teachers at this point.
"Teachers will adapt it and make it work based on what this school year will look like."
Keating said the association will discuss the plan with teachers once they return to work next week and have a chance to review it.
"We know the plan, that's what is most important at this point," she said.
Students start returning to school on Sept. 7.
Parents give plan mixed reviews
Parents are giving mixed reviews to New Brunswick's back-to-school plan.
Nikki Arch is a mother of four in Woodstock — a baby at home, two children in elementary school, and one in high school who is holding off on getting vaccinated because of her doctor's concerns with her allergies.
Arch is not sure what masks at school will accomplish, when they aren't required anywhere else. And she thinks the 90 per cent vaccination rate goal for high schools is far-fetched at this point.
But Arch said there's one thing the plan got right.
"I like the fact that the high school kids are going back because the blended learning, the online learning last year was not the greatest, because the kids weren't really accountable for their actions," she told CBC's Information Morning Fredericton. "We were getting behind every day.
"I'm just I'm worried about little kids. They should [have] just kept the classroom smaller and the bubbles for one more year."
Arch said her children are very excited about going back to school.
She said she's glad school staff will be vaccinated, but she doesn't feel it should be mandated for them by the province.
Elizabeth Kearns, mother of a seven-year-old and a three-year-old in Fredericton, and a former teacher, said she's happy about the mandatory vaccination for school staff.
"The first few years that I taught, I seem to catch every bug and cold going," she said. "Children aren't always the best at social distancing and cough etiquette and that sort of thing.
"Working with vulnerable populations, whether you're working in long-term care, education [or] a health-care setting … that is very important because the people that are there with you don't have a choice."
Kearns said she's comfortable with the elimination of class bubbles and the use of masks on school buses.
But she supports the plan to shut down entire schools for at least 24 hours if a single case of COVID-19 is detected.
She said it's a big sacrifice for families but proved effective in containing an outbreak last year at George Street Middle School.
With rising case numbers, Kearns said, it's possible this year may end up being less normal than last year.
She'd like to see a return to stricter measures in the wider community.
Update on Zone 1 nursing home outbreak
A COVID-19 outbreak at a nursing home in the Moncton region, Zone 1, still stands at two cases, says the Department of Health.
"Monitoring and mitigation" at Forest Dale Home in Riverside-Albert will continue until the regional medical officer of health is "comfortable" to declare the outbreak over, spokesperson Gail Harding said without elaborating.
The outbreak was declared on Aug. 16 after a resident and then an employee tested positive.
Mass testing of the 49 residents and all employees has been conducted by the provincial rapid outbreak management team and additional cleaning staff were sent to the home to assist.
Update on Zone 1 daycare outbreak
A COVID-19 outbreak at a daycare in the Moncton region, Zone 1, still stands at four cases, says the Department of Health.
The Owl and Friends Learning Tree daycare in Moncton will reopen as scheduled on Aug. 24, said spokesperson Gail Harding.
The daycare, which is licensed for 37 spaces, including infant, preschool and school-age children, was shut down by Public Health on Aug. 13, and the outbreak was announced on Aug. 16.
Health officials have declined to say whether the positive cases involve children or staff, citing privacy, and have not said how many people are isolating, if any.
"Contact tracing was conducted, risk assessment determined who was advised to isolate and/or get tested," Harding said in an emailed statement.
Atlantic COVID roundup
Nova Scotia confirmed 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and has 49 active cases.
Prince Edward Island has one new case and six active cases.
Newfoundland and Labrador no longer reports on Tuesdays and Thursdays. As of Monday, it had 15 active cases.
Latest possible exposures
Public Health has identified a positive case of COVID-19 in a person who may have been infectious while on the following flights:
Aug. 19 – Air Canada Flight 7548 – from Toronto to Fredericton
Aug. 17 – Air Canada Flight 8902 – from Montreal to Moncton
Public Health has also identified new places in New Brunswick where people may have been exposed to the coronavirus:
Moncton region, Zone 1:
Aug. 20 between 10:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. – Casino NB, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Aug. 20 between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. – Pump House Restaurant, 51 Orange Lane, Moncton
Aug. 17 between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. – Tide and Boar Brewing, 1355 Main St., Moncton
Aug. 7 between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. – Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Parish, 11 St. Andrews Rd., Pointe-du-Chêne
Fredericton region, Zone 3:
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. 18 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. – Carleton County Court House, 19 Court St., Upper Woodstock
Bathurst region, Zone 6:
Aug. 18 between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. – Nigadoo Falls Trail, Nigadoo
Miramichi region, Zone 7:
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
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. 19 – Air Canada Flight 8902 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 1:38 p.m.
Aug. 17 – Air Canada Flight 8506 – from Montreal to Fredericton, departed 7:45 p.m.
Aug. 13 – Air Canada Flight 8946 – from Toronto to Moncton, departed at 10:04 p.m.
Aug. 11 – Air Canada Flight 8773 – from Montreal to Saint John, which departed at 9:14 a.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. 14 between 8:45 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., 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. 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
Aug. 14 between 2 and 3 p.m. – Champlain Mall Food Court, 477 Paul St., Dieppe
Aug. 13 between 9 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. – Wise Guyz Pub, 176 Robinson St., Moncton
Aug. 13 between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. – Ioob Lounge Ltd., 127 Robinson St., Moncton
Aug. 11 – Groupe- Support Emotionnel, 96 Norwood Ave., Suite 300A, Moncton
Aug. 14 between 2 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. – Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre emergency room, 330 Université Ave., Moncton
Aug. 9, 10, 11, 13, and 14 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. – Action Car and Truck Accessories, 200 Horsman Rd., Moncton
Aug. 9, 10, and 13 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. – Deware's Service Centre, 402 Elmwood Dr., Moncton
Aug. 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. – Oulton College, 55 Lutz St.
Aug. 12 between 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. – St. Louis Bar & Grill, 1405 Mountain Rd.
Aug. 12 between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. – H&M, 477 Paul St., Dieppe
Aug. 12 between 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. – Our Place, 97 Cameron St., Moncton
Aug. 9, 10, 11, and 12 between 6:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. – Hillsborough Irving, 2799 Main St., Hillsborough
Aug. 11 between 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. – Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre diagnostic imaging waiting room, 330 University Ave.
Aug.11 between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. – New Life Pentecostal Church, 65 Dawson Rd., Weldon
Aug. 11 between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. – Costco, 140 Granite Dr., Moncton
Aug. 9, 10, and 11 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. – Corn Crib, 337 Mountain Dr., Moncton
Aug. 11 between 12 a.m. and 2 a.m. – Ioob Lounge Ltd., 127 Robinson St., Moncton
Aug. 10 between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. – Chris Rock Tavern, 48 Albert St.
Aug. 9 between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. – Champlain Place, 477 Paul St., Dieppe
Aug. 9 between noon and 1 p.m. – Pür & Simple Champlain Place, 477 Paul St., Dieppe
The province also shared possible sites of COVID-19 exposure in the Saint John, Fredericton, and Miramichi regions
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
Aug. 14 between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. - MasterMind Toys, 70 Consumers Dr., Saint John
Aug. 13 between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. - Pet Valu, 30 Plaza Ave., Saint John
Fredericton region, Zone 3:
Aug. 19 between 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. – Fredericton International Airport, arrivals area, 2570 Route 102 Highway, Lincoln
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
Aug. 12 between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. – Sobeys, 1180 Prospect St., Fredericton
Aug. 12 between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. – Costco Gas Bar and Costco Store, 25 Wayne Squibb Blvd., Fredericton
Aug. 11 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., Aug. 12 between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. – Atlantic Superstore, 350 Connell St., Woodstock
Aug. 11 between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. – McDonald's in Walmart, 1381 Regent St., Fredericton
Aug. 10 between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. – Coast Tire, 283 Connell St., Woodstock
Miramichi region, Zone 7:
Aug. 12 between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. – Walmart, 200 Douglastown Blvd., Miramichi
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.