Increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines, tests as NB considers new restrictions – New Brunswick | The Canadian News

New Brunswick health officials report an increase in COVID-19 vaccination appointment bookings in the days following the government’s submission of a proof of vaccination policy.

“Yesterday we scheduled 1,929 vaccination appointments at regional health authority clinics, in addition to 1,700 reservations the day before,” New Brunswick Medical Director of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said in a Friday news release. “Before Wednesday’s announcement, the recent average was 600 bookings per day.”

Russell also said that the number of walk-in clinics and pharmacies has also increased.

“On Thursday, 600 additional vaccines had to be delivered to a clinic in the Moncton area,” he said.

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Public Health, Horizon Health Network, and Vitalité Health Network also report an increase in demand for COVID-19 tests.

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Horizon issued a press release touting the “immediate need” for additional staff to assist at its testing facilities and vaccination clinics.

In a statement to Global News, Horizon’s Vice President of Community Jean Daigle said the network is in need of up to 65 physicians and administrative support workers as they seek to increase services.

“This outside call was most necessary due to the limited options available to reassign existing staff from Horizon to our clinic / assessment center operations,” said Daigle. “These are paid positions and new hires will go through a rapid onboarding process so they can join our team as quickly as possible.”

Kevin Wilson, a Halifax-based epidemiologist and vaccine data analyst, said the tests are key to stopping the current spike in COVID-19 cases given the absence of restrictions like mask mandates.

“From a virus perspective, that means there is nothing that really stops the spread of the virus except things like trying a contact tracing,” Wilson said. “That’s why it’s so much more important to lean on those assets as much as possible.”

Wilson noted that this is the first time that New Brunswick has seen a large number of active cases in multiple health zones, as previous outbreaks were centralized in one specific area. He believes the province needs to adjust its testing procedures as demand is likely to increase in all regions.

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The New Brunswick government is examining additional sanitary measures.

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Public Health met with Prime Minister Blaine Higgs and provincial opposition leaders on Friday.

Green Party leader David Coon confirmed that new measures were discussed, but said it will be the government to announce them, perhaps as soon as September 20.

“Public Health clearly said that vaccines are not enough to get through this fall and winter by themselves,” Coon said. “There needs to be additional public health measures.”

New Brunswick Liberal Acting Leader Roger Melanson said “we have to take this new Delta variant very seriously.”

“And there will be some steps that need to be taken.”

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