New Brunswick announces changes to vaccine rollout plan

New Brunswick will no longer hold separate vaccination clinics for homecare workers or large employers, the province’s health minister announced Thursday.

"Based on recent advice from public health, cabinet, and the all-party cabinet committee on COVID-19, we've accepted the recommendation that we adjust stage two of New Brunswick's COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan," said N.B. Health Minister Dorothy Shephard during Thursday’s news update.

According to Shephard, stage two of the province’s vaccination plan will still take place during the months of April and May, but there will no longer be separate vaccine clinics for homecare workers or large employers.

Shephard says those groups will now be vaccinated at the same time as the rest of their age cohorts.

"Focusing on age-based eligibility will maximize efficiency and allow us to react to changing supply chains as we work to vaccinate New Brunswickers quickly and efficiently with the vaccine available to us," said Shephard.

Beginning on Thursday, rotational workers, regular cross-border commuters, and truck drivers are now eligible to begin booking their vaccine appointments through a regional health authority clinic.

"Previously, this group was eligible to book an appointment by contacting a pharmacy and they may continue to do so if they wish," said Shephard.

Shephard says the change was made after learning the regional health authorities have the capacity to take on additional vaccine appointments.

"So, we are providing this option to make sure everyone who is eligible to receive the vaccine has the opportunity to be vaccinated in a timely manner," said Shephard.

"Though our vaccination rollout is changing, it is still on track. And we fully expect to have all New Brunswickers who are 60 and over who want to receive the vaccine to be vaccinated by the end of May.”

Shephard also said any New Brunswickers who wish to have the vaccine will be vaccinated by the end of June.

ASTRAZENECA VACCINE NOW AVAILABLE FOR RESIDENTS 55 AND OVER

As of Thursday, appointments are available for people 55 and older at upcoming AstraZeneca vaccination clinics organized by Horizon Health Network and Vitalité Health Network in Woodstock, Grand Falls, Campbellton, Bathurst, Tracadie, Miramichi, Moncton, Fredericton, Oromocto, Saint John and St. Stephen.

About 24,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine have also been allotted to 132 pharmacies across the province. Some pharmacies have already filled vacancies for available appointments. To find out if appointments are available, people 55 and older are asked to check a pharmacy’s website and their social media channels prior to calling.

COVID-19 vaccine appointments can be booked through the Government of New Brunswick's website or by calling 1-833-437-1424.