New Brunswick should receive enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to immunize almost 1,000 people by next week.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Public Safety says “up to” 1,950 doses of the vaccine should arrive “around Dec. 14 as part of the first of two shipments that may occur this month.”
That raises the possibility that some New Brunswickers could receive the first of two required doses before Christmas.
Public Safety spokesperson Shawn Berry said in an email statement that the province “is working to identify the priority groups that will receive the vaccine in the first phase of vaccinations based on recommendations from the federal government.”
“Any doses that do arrive ahead of January will be provided to members of those priority groups based on New Brunswick’s operational plan.”
The 1,950 doses would be enough to vaccinate 975 New Brunswickers, because the Pfizer vaccine requires two doses.
Canada to get 249,000 doses by year end
Earlier Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would be receiving 249,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine before the end of the year.
Trudeau said the vaccines would be distributed to the provinces in numbers proportionate to their populations.
He said the doses would be delivered by Pfizer directly to 14 distribution centres equipped with cold storage equipment to keep the vaccine at the required –80 C.
Berry said one freezer unit “has been received and installed in the province, with the potential for more as requirements are identified.”
Ottawa and the provinces have agreed to accept recommendations of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization that the first wave of vaccinations should be for high-risk groups such as residents of long-term care facilities, the people who work there and front-line health care workers.
Five long-term care residences in New Brunswick have been hit with COVID-19 outbreaks since the pandemic began in March.
Higgs has said nursing homes are first priority
Premier Blaine Higgs has called nursing homes “priority one.”
Berry’s brief email statement did not provide any details about the logistics of distributing the vaccine around the province. New Brunswick’s Emergency Measures Organization is taking the lead on that operation.
Ottawa had said previously that vaccine to immunize about three million Canadians was expected to be available between January and March.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said last month that her goal is to get 75 per cent of the province vaccinated, something she hopes to do by next fall.