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New Brunswick’s top doctor urges every New Brunswicker to get vaccinated against COVID-19, booster eligibility expanded

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, expressed her concern for the state of the province’s health-care system Friday, as the highly contagious COVID-19 Omicron variant continues to spread.

“By following public health guidance and advice, limiting your contacts and getting vaccinated, you are helping to slow the spread of this fast-moving Omicron variant,” said Russell.

“There is a road back to somewhat of a normal life and it runs through a vaccination clinic and by this I mean we need to continue to protect our health-care system, and the more we can get people vaccinated and boosted, that is what’s going to help the situation.”

Russell says it is urgent that every New Brunswicker is vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Severe illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19 continues to hit hardest at those who are unvaccinated,” said Russell.

“While they make up just a small slice of the population, the unvaccinated are requiring care for COVID-19 well out of proportion to their numbers.”

Since August 1, 2021, Russell says unvaccinated New Brunswickers have been hospitalized for COVID-19 at a rate of 283.5 per 100,000, compared to 31.1 per 100,000 for those who have at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“In that same time period, unvaccinated New Brunswickers have required ICU care at the rate of 35.9 per 100,000, compared to 7.2 per 100,000 for the fully vaccinated population,” says Russell.

In the coming weeks, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard says, it is likely the health-care system will be tested like never before.

“We expect that cases and hospitalizations will continue to rise. More health-care workers will be off work because of COVID-19 and service reductions will be ongoing,” said Shephard.

“Horizon and Vitalité health authorities and EMANB are working collaboratively to create a plan that will support the health-care system during the coming weeks.”


Beginning Monday, Jan. 10, New Brunswickers who are 18 years of age or older will be eligible to receive a booster dose of an MRNA vaccine, as long as five months has passed since their second dose.

“Eligible individuals will be able to book their appointment through a regional health authority clinic or through a pharmacy. This is an important step forward in protecting New Brunswickers from the impacts of Omicron,” said Shephard.

“If you are 50 and over and have not yet booked your booster dose, now is the time to do so.”

According to Russell, the federal government has informed the province that there will be a limited national supply of Pfizer until the spring.

“We have been advised to reserve our Pfizer supply for New Brunswickers under the age of 30, to reduce the incidents of adverse side effects in that age group,” said Russell.

“If you have received Pfizer for your first two doses, you can safely have Moderna for your third dose. Moderna boosters have been very well tolerated with relation to side effects. What matters right now is that everyone gets a booster as soon as possible.”


Dr. Russell and Shephard admitted the recent switch in testing protocol is a huge change – one the entire country is having to make.

As of Wednesday, only those over 50 can access the more-accurate PCR test, while those under 50 – who are symptomatic – have to book an appointment to access a rapid screening test.

If that test is positive, individuals are being urged to report those results online.

“In the past six days, we have 2,009 POCT positive test results that were reported. And we know that we're not going to get every positive case registered,” said Shephard.

“The indication that we're looking for is to have a general expectation that we can understand, with the greatest certainty that we can attain with public participation, that we can have a fairly good indication of what our numbers are at.”

She said people over 50 are more at risk for complications due to the virus. If they register for a PCR test, public health has their information so they can follow up with a health check over the phone.

Shephard also clarified that if someone has symptoms, they can leave isolation for medical attention or to access the rapid tests.

As for if the province has reached the threshold to move into level three of its COVID-19 winter plan, Shephard said N.B. isn’t there yet.

“I do not say that we won’t go to level three, but it will be done at that appropriate time.”


According to public health, there are 69 people in hospital receiving treatment for COVID-19, 17 of whom are in intensive care.

Of those in hospital:

  • 50 are over 60
  • 14 people are on a ventilator
  • Two people are aged 19 and under

Based upon information available from PCR tests, public health reported 840 new cases of COVID-19 Friday and 548 recoveries.

Effective Saturday, Jan. 8, PCR-confirmed test numbers and other data updates will be available only on the dashboard.

Of the new reported cases:

  • 220 are in Zone 1 (Moncton region)
  • 270 are in Zone 2 (Saint John region)
  • 108 are in Zone 3 (Fredericton region)
  • 53 are in Zone 4 (Edmundston region)
  • 26 are in Zone 5 (Campbellton region)
  • 115 are in Zone 6 (Bathurst region)
  • 48 are in Zone 7 (Miramichi region)

Public health says a person over 90 years of age has died as a result of COVID-19 in Zone 1 (Moncton region).

As of Friday, 83.1 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 90.6 per cent have received their first dose of a vaccine and 23.6 per cent have received a booster dose. Top Stories

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