N.B. weekend vaccine numbers may not reflect a slowdown, rather slow data

New Brunswick's vaccine rate slowed over the weekend, according to the province's COVID-19 dashboard.

The number of second doses increased 1.2 per cent, while first doses only gained 0.1 per cent.

But public health says those numbers may not reflect what actually happened over the weekend.

"At times, it can take some extra time for vaccination clinic data to be reported to Public Health and displayed on the COVID-19 dashboard," said Bruce Macfarlane, department of health communications director. "I think we are experiencing something like this from the past weekend."

And Jake Reid, executive director at the N.B. Pharmacists' Association, says they haven't seen a slowdown.

"New Brunswick pharmacies continue to see steady demand for the COVID vaccine," he said in a statement. "We encourage New Brunswickers to continue to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to help our province get back to normal. If you do make an appointment to get vaccinated and can't make it, please let the pharmacy know."

Either way, those numbers are not worrying some members of the COVID-19 all-party cabinet committee.

"It's no surprise," said David Coon. "I don't think it's indicative of anything other than New Brunswickers just taking a break and enjoying themselves."

He said Public Health has been creative in trying to ensure the vaccine is as accessible as possible, citing the mobile clinics happening across the province.  

There are nine planned for this week – all of them will be administering the Moderna vaccine.

"I'm pleased as punch in the way public health and public safety have been running the vaccine rollout and the campaign. I think it's been very effective. We're doing so well in the national context and the international context with respect to the uptake," he said.

Aug. 2 remains the target for the province to have 75 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers fully vaccinated. On Monday, the province was at 58.1 per cent.

But People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin believes that's good enough to remove the emergency order now.

"The whole concept of the state of emergency originally – which I supported – was to ensure that our hospital didn't get overwhelmed," he said. "That has always been the benchmark and we've done exceptionally well with that…The data shows us, we're not in a state of emergency here in New Brunswick, and it's time to move on."