Province strategizing amid “fragile” vaccine supply


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is getting jabs over Canada's vaccine supply glitches, a slowdown in deliveries that could derail the province's plan to have 75 per cent of Nova Scotians vaccinated with the recommended two doses against COVID-19 by the end of September.

Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer, says vaccine maker Pfizer has indicated the supply hiccups are a short-term issue, which means everything could still be on track for mass inoculations to start in the spring.

But the current supply is "fragile," so the province is continuing to hold back vaccinations in the short term to ensure there is adequate supply for second doses.

As of Jan. 29, Nova Scotia administered 14,589 first doses of vaccine and 2,714 second doses.

In the first 30 days, the province is focusing its vaccination effort on healthcare workers, with clinics set up at Dalhousie University, Cape Breton Regional, Valley Regional and Colchester East Hants Regional, with the IWK, Yarmouth Regional and St. Martha's to follow.

Supply also is starting to trickle in for long-term care facilities in the central and eastern zones.

The next step, in the 60-day part of the plan, is to set up prototype community clinics for those aged 80 and up in Halifax and Truro with notifications made through the Nova Scotia Medical Services Information (MSI). Pharmacies will be testing prototype clinics in that phase with prospects for a broad rollout around the province.

Within 90 days, new mass immunization clinics will be set up, with an expansion of pharmacy, primary health care and outreach clinic models.

Allison Bodnar, CEO of the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia, says pharmacies are hoping to play a big role, as they have been with flu vaccines.

She notes that 95 per cent of Nova Scotians live within five kilometres of a drugstore, making them a convenient option.

"We have the infrastructure," she says. "We hope to be a big part of the solution in the spring."

Janet Whitman is a contributing editor and staff writer with Advocate, Metro Guide and Halifax Magazine.

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