Improvements being made to vaccine roll-out: province

PORT HOOD: The provincial government said it continues to make improvements to its appointment booking system, as more criticism is levelled at the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine.

During its April 1 regular monthly meeting, Inverness Municipal Council approved committee of the whole recommendation to send a letter to Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Brendan McGuire, about the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine in the municipality.

While he understands there are refrigeration requirements for vaccines, and there are reasons why there can only be so many sites, Warden Laurie Cranton hoped McGuire could advocate on their behalf.

“There’s been some concerns throughout the municipality about the vaccine coverage, especially in rural areas, and some of the seniors that have to drive, up to two-and-a-half hours,” he noted. “Many of these are elderly people. I know people in their 90s that have had to arrange transportation, for example to Sydney.”

In response to a question from Deputy Warden Bonny MacIsaac about the availability of vaccines for seniors, Cranton said the province can do better but the minister did provide reasons to be optimistic.

“What he did say was they are ramping this up in the communities, further and further,” he replied. “One of the drawbacks they have is they only give so many vaccines per week, so to open that up just everywhere, there would only be a few here and few there, so they have to control that a bit.”

Also during the meeting, Cranton recounted a virtual meeting of mayors and wardens with Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.

Cranton said he was left with the impression that, so far, Nova Scotia is doing well, but the population must remain vigilant.

“As bad as it is across the country, looking at the stats he presented, one of the messages I took away from it is we are one of the better provinces in Canada right now, economically and COVID-wise,” Cranton told council. “We can’t let our guard down until everyone gets vaccinated.”

The warden said municipal officials were asked during the virtual meeting to remind residents to continue adhering to public health protocols.

“Just because you’re vaccinated, doesn’t change a whole lot. I think maybe down the road, we put a full page in the newspaper, or something that allows the public to hear from us, urging them,” he told council. “I think maybe we share some kind of campaign with Richmond and Port Hawkesbury as well. I think there needs to be some discussion around that. That’s one of my pet projects right now.”

This was the same day that the province confirmed that anyone 70 and older can book their COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

According to the province, people can book appointments at community clinics and participating pharmacies across the province. They are offering Moderna or Pfizer vaccine for this age range.

The province also announced that people aged 55 to 64 will be able to book appointments to receive AstraZeneca vaccine at participating physician and pharmacy clinics.

“We have made a number of improvements to our booking system since we first began the vaccine roll-out,” provincial spokesperson Marla MacInnis told The Reporter. “This includes adding a queuing system online so that Nova Scotians are automatically moved through to the booking site when it is their turn and adding capacity to the phone lines. Appointments continue to be added as vaccine supply becomes available.”

Strait area locations where the AstraZenca vaccine is available to those ages 60-64 are Antigonish Medical Associates at 40 Church Street in Antigonish and via Freeman’s Pharmacy at the Inverness Fire hall at 15795 Central Ave in Inverness.

The Moderna vaccine is available to those 70 and over at: the Atlantic Superstore Pharmacy at 26 Market Street in Antigonish; the Lawtons Drugs at 133 Church Street in Antigonish; the Shoppers Drug Mart at 303 Main Street in Antigonish; the Guysborough Pharmachoice in the Chedabucto Lifestyle Complex at 27 Green Street in Guysborough; Freeman’s Pharmacy at 15786 Central Ave in Inverness; and at the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy at 708-B Reeves Street in Port Hawkesbury.