The provincial government announced Tuesday that people 65 and older may now schedule an appointment online to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine through Vitalité or Horizon health networks or by contacting a participating pharmacy.

People in this age group, or a caregiver or family member calling on their behalf, can make the appointment.

There will be 19,000 spaces available at clinics organized by the two health networks over the next two weeks.

“I encourage everyone who is eligible for a vaccine and wishes to receive one to make an appointment,” said Health Minister Dorothy Shephard. “And if you can help someone else make an appointment, please do so. Assisting a loved one or neighbour so they can get vaccinated doesn’t just help that person, it helps us move forward as a province.”

“If you are booking through a pharmacy, please be patient,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. “Many pharmacies are already fully booked for appointments through the next few weeks. Everyone is working hard to ensure eligible New Brunswickers are vaccinated in a timely and efficient manner.”

Walk-in appointments are not available. When booking an appointment, people should indicate if they are self-isolating because pharmacies and clinics may have specific processes for them.

Individual has recovered from a rare blood clot linked to AstraZeneca vaccine

Public Health has confirmed a case of a rare blood clot associated with low platelets known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) in a New Brunswicker between 30-39 who received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Russell said the individual received treatment and has recovered. Due to patient confidentiality, additional details will not be released.

The individual received a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in mid-March, prior to the advice issued by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on March 29 indicating that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not recommended for people under 55.

“While every adverse reaction is unfortunate, it is important to remember that these blood clots are extremely rare,” Russell said. “The vaccine helps prevent the much higher risks associated with COVID-19 infections.”

She noted that the global frequency of VITT remains low and has been estimated at about one case in 100,000 to 250,000 doses of vaccine.

Based upon the advice of Public Health, the AstraZeneca vaccine will continue to be provided to New Brunswickers 55 and older, because the impact of severe illness caused by COVID-19 is considered to be greater than the risk of adverse outcomes of the vaccine. The provincial government will continue to assess the use of this vaccine, based upon expert advice and an assessment of risks and benefits to residents.

No new cases

Public Health reported no new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday.

The number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick is 1,797. Since yesterday, 19 people have recovered for a total of 1,624 recoveries. There have been 33 deaths, and the number of active cases is 139. Twenty-one patients are hospitalized, including eight in an intensive care unit. Yesterday, 1,205 tests were conducted for a total of 277,706.

Vaccination phone line for truck drivers

The provincial government has created a dedicated phone line for truck drivers seeking assistance to book a vaccination appointment. New Brunswick truck drivers, who are regular cross-border commuters, may call 1-833-724-0088 with questions about booking and to schedule a vaccination appointment.

“Truck drivers have been eligible to book an appointment for a vaccine since March 24,” Shephard said. “We appreciate their hard work and want to make sure they are protected and healthy, so we are making every effort to ensure they have access to the vaccine.”

Call for health-care volunteers to assist in Ontario

The provincial government is calling upon people with health-care experience to volunteer to assist Ontario with their response to COVID-19. While New Brunswick does not have resources to spare within the regional health authorities, any health-care workers who are retired or working outside of the health-care system are encouraged to assist. Ontario is in need of nurses, respiratory therapists, perfusionists and anesthesia assistants. All travel expenses and salaries will be covered by the federal government. To learn more, email NBHEOC@gnb.ca or call 506-444-2882 during business hours or 506-461-2880 after hours.

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Reminder of lockdown, Orange and Yellow levels

A section of Zone 4, including Edmundston and the upper Madawaska region, is in lockdown as per the province’s mandatory order. A detailed list of lockdown restrictions, including what can remain open and what must close, is available online.

The communities of Saint-Léonard, Grand Falls, Drummond, New Denmark and Four Falls are in the Orange level.

All other zones and communities in the province, including the Saint-Quentin and Kedgwick regions in Zone 4, remain in the Yellow level.

No travel is permitted in and out of the lockdown area or within the lockdown area except when necessary, such as for vaccinations, medical appointments, work or to purchase essential goods. No travel is recommended in or out of areas in the Orange level. This recommendation includes no travel to sporting or entertainment events in other zones. Travel among Yellow level areas is permitted.

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