Nova Scotia to get 1,950 doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Ottawa next week
Published Tuesday, December 8, 2020 12:50PM AST Last Updated Tuesday, December 8, 2020 9:56PM AST
HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia unveiled a broad outline of its COVID-19 vaccine plan Tuesday, as the number of new cases from an ongoing outbreak remained in the single digits.
Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, said Nova Scotia would receive 1,950 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for an initial test run beginning next Tuesday.
"We will be using these first almost 2,000 doses to immunize frontline acute care health-care workers in the central zone (Halifax) who are most directly involved in the COVID response," Strang told reporters at a briefing in Halifax.
He said that included people who work with patients in intensive care units and emergency rooms, hospital COVID units and long-term care regional care units.
Strang said because the vaccine has specific handling requirements, Pfizer has stipulated that the initial round of immunizations must take place near where the doses are stored.
Nova Scotia has one ultralow-temperature freezer to store the vaccine at the tertiary care teaching complex at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre. Strang said that was factored into how the province decided who should get the vaccine first.
"But also we need protect and preserve our frontline health care workers so they are around and able to treat people with COVID and everyone else as well," Strang said.
After the initial round of vaccinations, Strang said the province is expecting to get weekly allotments of vaccine through the first four months of 2021, for a total of 150,000 doses by the end of March. That's enough to immunize 75,000 people with two doses taken one month apart.
Long-term care residents would be next in line for vaccinations, followed by other long-term care staff and then those in the wider community who are 80 years of age and older, then 75 and up followed by 70 and up.
Strang said it would likely be the spring before other health-care and essential workers can get vaccinated and the summer before vaccine is available for the broader community.
The province is participating in a dry run this week with the federal government, Dalhousie University and the vaccine manufacturer.
The exercise is to test shipping, delivery, tracking and storage ahead of next weeks rollout but will not include actual vaccine.
Meanwhile, the province reported seven new cases of novel coronavirus on Tuesday as the number of active cases dropped from 90 to 78.
The cases included two in the western health zone that are close contacts of previously reported cases, and one in the northern zone related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada.
Four cases were identified in the central zone, which includes Halifax -- with two close contacts of previously reported cases, one connected to Shannon Park Elementary School in Dartmouth and one under investigation.
Strang said the two cases in the western zone were workers at a poultry plant in the Annapolis Valley. He didn't identify the plant but said testing of its 450 workers would begin Wednesday as the plant temporarily shuts down. He said public health was first notified of the cases late Monday.
"If you look at other parts of the country there have been large outbreaks at these types of facilities," said Strang. "That's exactly why we are acting very quickly . . . to minimize the chance of any further cases within that facility."
Strang noted the province had registered its fourth consecutive day with single-digit cases of COVID-19, adding that other key indicators such as the number active cases and number of close contacts per case were also dropping significantly.
"All of this is encouraging, but we need to make sure that these trends continue over the next week and beyond," he said.
The province is to reassess current restrictions in the Halifax area that prohibit such things as in-person dining at restaurants by Dec. 16.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2020.