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Vaccination rate will determine if Nova Scotia can enter Phase 5 early

It requires having 75 per cent of our population being fully vaccinated with two doses
070521 -  strang rankin
Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang, Chief Medical Officer of Health, at a COVID-19 briefing on July 5, 2021

Nova Scotia may be able to enter Phase 5 of its reopening plan early.

It requires having 75 per cent of our population being fully vaccinated with two doses and we're currently slated to get there at some point in September.

But according to the province's chief medical officer of health, a lot of supply is on the way and if we can boost our vaccination rates this month, it's possible we could reach that milestone in August.

"The sooner we reach Phase 5, living with COVID, the sooner we can start to lift more restrictions and mandatory measures," Dr. Robert Strang said at a Monday briefing. "But it's up to all of us who are able to get vaccinated to get two doses as soon as we can."

As of Monday, he said 73 per cent of Nova Scotians have had at least one dose and 29 per cent have had both.

"We need people to keep getting their first dose and move us beyond our minimum target of 75 per cent of the entire population, then we need everyone to get their second dose," Strang explained.  

"Until we do, personal health measures like masking, distancing and testing will remain in place to help protect us."

Currently anyone who received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on or before June 15 can now reschedule their booster.

Strang said Nova Scotia continues to experience a temporary reduction in the supply of Pfizer vaccines, which is the only one available to those between the ages of 12 and 17.

"We are expecting a decision from Health Canada soon on whether Moderna can also be used for this age group," he stated. "We are expecting much more [Pfizer] the week of July 25th, so for those looking to book an appointment for someone under 18, I ask for your patience."

"Even if your child has to wait until the end of July or early August to get their Pfizer vaccine, they will still get their second dose well before they head to school."

He said that's ahead of the original plan, which would not have seen teens fully vaccinated until the end of September or early October.

When asked if the province has considered restricting Pfizer for that younger demographic, he said it would "create a significant disruption" to change the overall vaccine program for what will only be a short-term issue.

"We also know that people in the older age groups are at higher risk for severe disease so we want to continue to get them a second dose as quickly as possible, just as a precaution against any Delta variant," he added.

He's encouraging anyone over the age of 18 to get the first vaccine that's available to them, "and that will certainly help to make sure that when we do get more Pfizer, it is available for those 12 to 17."

Nova Scotia is currently in Phase 3 and it is hoped we can enter Phase 4 next Wednesday.

Premier Iain Rankin said health officials continue to monitor the impact of reopening our borders and the other loosened restrictions that came with Phase 3, but "all signs are positive so far."

Phase 4 will include allowing retail stores to operate at full capacity and restaurants to return to their regular hours.

The informal social gathering limit at that stage will be 25 people inside and 50 outside without social distancing and masks.


Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the editor for CityNews Halifax.
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