Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said on Tuesday she plans to continue lowering the age limit each week by the end of May. “Increasing the number of doses and distributing those doses evenly over the next four weeks is pretty big, so we’re really on our way to spending each week close to [43,000] at 45,000 doses, ”Russell said in a briefing Tuesday.
“Each week, we will be able to continue on the path of announcing which age groups are eligible to receive vaccines. ”
The province announced Tuesday that people aged 50 and over can now register for appointments with pharmacies and regional health authorities. Until Tuesday, 60 was the age limit.
As of Tuesday, 37.4% of eligible adults and 31.7% of the general population had been vaccinated after a week that saw the pace of injections slow.
Between Monday April 26 and Monday May 3, the province administered 27,418 doses, below the rate of 30,000 doses per week that Russell spoke about last week.
But this is in part due to the drop in deliveries to the province during the same week. New Brunswick received only 21,060 doses during the same period, which means more doses were administered than received.
The drop is expected to reverse this week with more than 75,000 additional doses of vaccine, the largest single week delivery to date.
I think we’re going to be able to cross a very large portion of our population over the next four weeks.– Dr. Jennifer Russell, Chief Medical Officer of Health
The figure includes 12,500 doses of Moderna which were due to be here last week but which were presented in the official tally on Tuesday.
The federal government has announced that an additional 20,600 doses of Moderna, which are expected to ship next week, will arrive earlier than expected this week.
And 42,120 doses of Pfizer are on their way, doubling the volume of last week.
This represents a total of 75,220 doses, which is a first dose for almost one in 10 New Brunswickers.
Russell said the province aims to get 43,000 to 45,000 people per week for their first injections, but it can scale to an even larger volume.
“I think we’re going to be able to cross a very large part of our population in the next four weeks,” she said. “So I think every week we can continue to announce a different age cohort. ”
Russell declined to say when the vaccination rate could allow the province to begin lifting some public health restrictions.
She said she and her staff are monitoring what is happening in other countries that are ahead of New Brunswick’s deployment and are starting to wonder what restrictions can end.
“That remains to be seen,” Russell said.
She declined to comment on a chart sent to reporters two weeks ago showing the province’s projected vaccination rate each week through June.
He predicts the rate will drop from 40% next week and hit 60% the week of May 24-30. This week’s milestone was highlighted in red.
Russell said on Tuesday she didn’t have the chart with her and couldn’t say whether this highlighted week represented a target or a threshold for policy changes.
Pfizer’s weekly shipments will increase again in June. The graph shows that about 95 percent of New Brunswickers are expected to have a first photo by the last week of June.
Meanwhile, 6,000 doses of Johnson and Johnson’s single-dose vaccine allocated to New Brunswick remain on hold while Health Canada checks for potential manufacturing issues at the US plant where they were manufactured.
“The best information we have is that Health Canada continues to review this data and that we do not yet have a clear vision of when these … doses would be released,” said the federal Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Dominic LeBlanc.
Vaccination expert Dr Noni MacDonald of Dalhousie University School of Medicine said a single-shot vaccine would be ideal for transient people such as the homeless or shift workers who may be difficult to schedule for second doses, or for people who fear needles.
“For these people, this may be the right way to move forward,” she said.
Russell said Johnson and Johnson’s doses are not yet factored into the province’s deployment plan, so there is no decision on who will get them.
“Right now we are in a waiting situation,” she said.