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Maritime provinces prepare to start administering 2nd COVID-19 booster shots

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New Brunswick pharmacies will soon be administering second COVID-19 booster doses for those who are 50 and older in the province, following updated guidelines recently released by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).

“Demand has been high,” says Fredericton pharmacist Alistair Bursey. “So, we’re definitely going to expand where maybe we’ve been doing two or three patients per day in our pharmacy – I think we’re going to probably end up seeing 30, 40, or 50 people coming in each clinic daily.”

The fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine will become available for the specified age group on Tuesday.

Meantime, Nova Scotia also announced it too will soon be offering second booster shots to long-term care residents and residents aged 70 and older.

Dr. Zahid Butt, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ont., says it’s especially important for the elderly population to get the fourth dose at this point in time.

“There is waning immunity among the elderly because they were the first ones that got all of their doses, plus the booster dose,” says Butt. “This is a support to boost their immunity, so that’s why you have this fourth booster dose among this population.”

Also starting this week in New Brunswick, high-risk COVID-19 patients will be able to contact their primary care physician for a prescription of the anti-viral treatment Paxlovid.

Bursey says they’re seeing a big increase in the number of prescriptions they’re filling at his Fredericton pharmacy.

“I think we dispensed maybe three or four in the first month or so, and in one week, we dispensed about 15 at our pharmacy, and that’s good because it’s a great treatment and it’s another tool in our arsenal," says Bursey.

The province says Paxlovid will be available at no cost, and while it can be taken at home, it has to be taken within five days of symptoms starting to make it as effective as possible.

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