HALIFAX -- The push is on: in order for Nova Scotia to reduce more pandemic restrictions, at least 75 per cent of the population needs to be fully vaccinated.

"The more people that are vaccinated, the more we're going to drastically reduce our risk of infection and transmission," said epidemiologist Kevin Wilson.

The province hopes to move from Phase 4 of its reopening plan to the fifth and final stage in September.

According to Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, if everyone who is booked for a second dose takes their vaccine about 76 per cent of Nova Scotia's population will be fully vaccinated.

The challenge for Public Health is that many of the appointments stretch into the fall.

"Whether we have restrictions or not in September is fully in the hands of the Nova Scotians who currently have an appointment booked but have not yet moved it up into August," Strang said Thursday.

Health officials say there's enough vaccine in the province to immunize all eligible Nova Scotians now. To reach the goal of 75 per cent, about 35,000 people need to get their second shot this month.

"If they don't move their appointments up into August, restrictions may need to continue into September and beyond," said Strang.

Wilson says vaccines are safe and effective.

"What we're seeing in other jurisdictions that have had outbreaks, kind of post wide spread vaccinations, is that those really serious outcomes are verymuch limited to, in large part, the unvaccinated," he said. "Even if you think you're not at risk, even if your personal assessment is that your risk level is low, if you get vaccinated it's almost zero."

Pharmacist Graham MacKenzie says for the last week-and-a-half, his clinic in Baddeck was offering the Moderna vaccine and many appointments were going unfilled.

"There were days thatwe had 120 slots where there might have only a handful, like a dozen or even eight that were booked," said MacKenzie.

This week, Pfizer was being offered at the clinic on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

"Those are almost fully booked. We were doing closer to 120 on those days," he said. "It's definitely slower than when we first started this, you couldn't even get a shot at first."

Doctors Nova Scotia says it's important for people who have to cancel their vaccine appointment to be sure they officially cancel their appointment online or by phone so that unneeded doses are not drawn up.

Community vaccine clinics are now starting to wind down across the province and pharmacies will be the main provider of vaccines in Nova Scotia from Aug. 16 onward.