Vaccine rollout hits new milestone; first community clinic for African Nova Scotians held in Upper Hammonds Plains

Eugene Anderson gets his COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Carolyne Aremo Thursday, April 8th in Upper Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia. (Photo: Communications Nova Scotia)

The vaccine rollout hit another milestone in Nova Scotia with the very first community vaccination clinic for African Nova Scotians.

"As African Nova Scotians, you know there's been disparities in health services so this is a defining moment. I'm excited about this," said Rev. Andrea Anderson.

The clinic was held at the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Upper Hammonds Plains on Thursday.

"We know that people in the Black community are vulnerable to COVID-19 and the adverse effects of the virus and so it's important to bring the vaccine to the community for access," said Dr. David Haase.

"One of the biggest barriers is the mistrust that people in the Black community have had over the years in terms of the medical system and so along comes this vaccine and the mistrust and the misinformation about the vaccine has made it even more difficult," he said.

"A combination of being disproportionally affected on the one hand and having mistrust of a system on the other meant that we had to have a culturally specific way of reaching out to people of African ancestry and also making them feel safe," added Sharon Davis-Murdoch with the Health Association of African Canadians.

Eugene Anderson, 62, was one of the 250 people that took part in the clinic.

"The spread of this disease is no joke and any way, shape or form we can help it from not spreading, I think is such a positive thing," Anderson said.

Nova Scotia expects to administer 40,000 doses of vaccine this week, with 50,000 shots going into arms next week.

The Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia says 120 pharmacies are now set up on the online booking system and providing vaccines this week and next.

By April 19, there will be 220 pharmacies administering the vaccine and by the first week of May, there will be nearly 300 pharmacies across the province offering the shot.

"Our pharmacies are bending over backwards to make sure that not only are we not wasting any vaccine, but we're ensuring that we're getting the most vaccine possible out of every vial using very particular syringes so in some cases we can get 11 doses out of a Moderna vial, sometimes we can pool two vials and get an extra dose," said Allison Bodnar, CEO of the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia.

Seventeen physician clinics are also set up in Nova Scotia and able to deliver between 300 and 500 vaccines per day.

"They're not really seeing a lot in terms of missed appointments," said Roybn MacQuarrie, the president of Doctors Nova Scotia.

MacQuarrie said there’s been zero vaccine wastage at their sites.

"That was one of the demands that government had for us, is that we be able to be very efficient with the vaccine that was provided us and I think Docs have done a really good job in terms of being frugal and seeing this as liquid gold," she said.