Queens General Hospital designated an AstraZeneca roll-out site

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Queens General Hospital in Liverpool is one of 12 family physician sites and 13 pharmacies that will be rolling out the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine this week.

It is the only location in the Region of Queens Municipality and the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg where the vaccine will be administered.

The provincial government announced it’s now rolling out the vaccines to Nova Scotians aged 63 and 64 on a first-come, first-serve basis beginning March 20. Besides targeted seniors, this is the first general public group eligible to receive the vaccine.

The province has partnered with the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia and Doctors Nova Scotia to help deliver the 13,000 available doses of the vaccine.

“We have a solid plan to offer the AstraZeneca vaccine to a specific age group as a start and it’s thanks to the hard work of everyone at Doctors Nova Scotia and the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia who answered the call,” Premier Iain Rankin stated in a March 10 news release. “This vaccine provides another tool in our fight against COVID-19 and builds on the roll-out that is already underway in our province as we work to vaccinate all Nova Scotians.”

As more of the vaccine becomes available, it was expected to be offered to those who are between the ages of 50 to 64, starting with those who are oldest and working backward by age.

Janice Hudson, communications advisor with Doctors Nova Scotia, said they were contacted the first week of March by the Government of Nova Scotia to help find physician clinics that would be able to administer a minimum of 500 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine in a tight time frame. All 13,000 of the vaccine doses need to be distributed by April 2.

“We did both a general call out across our membership throughout Nova Scotia, as well as targeted outreach to clinics who had previously indicated a desire to support the vaccine effort,” she said.

Sites required the capacity to re-arrange patient care to administer the vaccine as quickly as possible, added Hudson.

The province expected to receive 38,000 doses of the reportedly more effective Pfizer-BioNtech in the last two weeks of March.

“All COVID-19 vaccines provide good protection against severe COVID-19 illness,” Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, advised in the release. “Having the AstraZeneca vaccine will allow eligible Nova Scotians to have an option to receive an earlier immunization.”

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is given on a two-dose schedule. Updated guidelines from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization has extended the second dose interval of COVID-19 vaccines to 16 weeks. This change means more Nova Scotians will receive their first dose of vaccine sooner.

All appointments must be made online at https://www.novascotia.ca/vaccination or by calling toll-free 1-833-797-7772. Booking for appointments was set to open March 16.

Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin