N.S. vaccine plan on track, Dr. Strang says

Doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Communications N.S.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is getting jabs over Canada’s vaccine supply glitches, but the slowdown in deliveries isn’t expected to derail the province’s plan to have 75% of Nova Scotians vaccinated with the recommended two doses against COVID-19 by the end of September.

Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer, says vaccine maker Pfizer has indicated the supply hiccups are a short-term issue, which means everything should still be on track for mass inoculations to start in the spring.

Dr. Robert Strang. Photo: Communications N.S.

“At this point, we’re not anticipating any changes to our 90-day plan,” Strang said during a media briefing on Friday. “It’s just within that 90-day period we’re going to have to be flexible, with less vaccine now and those delayed amounts to come later in February and March.”

As of Jan. 24, health-care workers have administered 11,083 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the province, including 2,708 Nova Scotians who have gotten the second dose that’s necessary to complete the inoculation.

In the first 30 days, the province is focusing its vaccination effort on health-care workers, with clinics set up at Dalhousie University, Cape Breton Regional, Valley Regional, and Colchester East Hants, with the IWK, Yarmouth Regional, and St. Martha’s to follow.

Supply also is starting to trickle in for long-term care facilities in the Central and Eastern zones.

The next step, in the 60-day part of the plan, is to set up prototype community clinics for those aged 80 and up in Halifax and Truro. Organizers will use MSI information to contact participants. Pharmacies will test prototype clinics in that phase with prospects for a broad rollout around the province.

Within 90 days, new mass immunization clinics are scheduled to be set up, with an expansion of pharmacy, primary health care, and outreach clinic models.

Allison Bodnar, CEO of the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia, says pharmacies are hoping to play a big role, as they have been with flu vaccines.

She notes that 95% of Nova Scotians live within five kilometres of a drugstore, making them a convenient option.

“We have the infrastructure,” she says. “We hope to be a big part of the solution in the spring.”

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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