Strang makes important reminder about COVID-19 vaccines as N.S. expands rollout

As Nova Scotia added another group that is eligible to book appointments to receive the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, the province's chief medical officer of health offered an important reminder to those who've had the vaccine.

"While there are treatments that can help with the symptoms caused by COVID-19, there is no cure and no guarantee," Dr. Robert Strang said during a news conference on Monday afternoon. "Even if you've had your first dose of COVID-19 vaccine it takes at least two weeks to develop immunity to the virus."

Strang made this pointed reminder during the provincial COVID-19 press briefing because of some recent developments in the outbreak in Central Zone, which includes Halifax.

"There are a couple of people in hospital because they went out to celebrate, immediately after getting their first dose of vaccine," Strang said.

People in the 50 to 54 age group can now book appointments at community clinics and participating pharmacy and primary care clinics that offer the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

N.S. Health says all community clinics and participating pharmacies have available appointments for this age group.

According to the province, there are about 67,625 eligible Nova Scotians in the 50-54 age group.

Nova Scotia also announced that the province’s first drive-thru vaccination clinic will open next Monday, May 10 at the Dartmouth General Hospital.

This clinic will be for people 50 and older. Appointments will be posted Tuesday, May 4.

Nova Scotia's COVID-19 online dashboard provides an update on the amount of vaccines that have been administered to date.

As of Monday, almost 321,000 vaccine doses have been given out so far, with more than 36,000 of those a second dose.

The province has received a total of 345,940 doses of COVID-19 vaccine since Dec. 15, 2020.

The province is encouraging all Nova Scotians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they are eligible, but officials say it will take more than that to stem the tide of COVID-19.

"While we push our immunization program, we need to continue to follow public health protocols," said Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin.

Strang said that is especially important now, while cases are rising and there is community spread in Central Zone.

"Vaccines are not what you use to control an immediate outbreak," Strang said. "You use all the other public health restrictions. Even somebody who's vaccinated today takes at least two weeks for them to develop immunity. What we need to do is to complement the restrictions that are controlling the immediate outbreak is to build the level of immunity in our population as quickly as possible."

As appointments open up for Pfizer and Moderna, there has been concern over  AstraZeneca appointments being cancelled as a result, but Strang says all 10,000 AstraZeneca appointments in the province are now full.

"By lunchtime all of our appointments were filled for two weeks," Dr. Murdo Ferguson said of the response last Friday when the province lowered the age of eligibility for AstraZeneca to 40. "Since we have entered the third wave in Nova Scotia, I think people are realizing that the first vaccine that you receive is the best vaccine."

COVID-19 vaccination appointments can be made online or by phone at 1-833-797-7772. Appointments cannot be booked directly through a community clinic, pharmacy or physician. Walk-ins will be turned away.