As New Brunswick is well on its way to meeting the goal of having at least 75% immunity against COVID-19 by August, Public Health recognizes that there is still work to be done to persuade people under the age of 40 to wrap their sleeves around them.
Public Health announced Wednesday that 43.5% of New Brunswickers over the age of 12 are now fully immunized. The vaccine dose was also given to 78.7% of citizens who were eligible for the vaccine.
Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, called the numbers “huge progress.”
“I am more hopeful than ever that we will achieve our goals,” she told a news conference Wednesday afternoon. I believe we will soon be able to ensure that COVID-19 can be administered without health restrictions from March 2020. “
Young people are less mobilized
Although the province looks set to turn green by August, vaccine data show that the immunization campaign with young people is less successful.
In fact, only 64.5% of 12- to 19-year-olds received their first dose of the vaccine. Between the ages of 20 and 29, the rate is 63.5%, compared to 66.7% for New Brunswickers aged 30 to 39.
In comparison, 86.8% of citizens aged 60 to 69 years received the first dose of the vaccine, and among those aged 70 and over, rates vary between 94% and 97%.
When asked if New Brunswickers under the age of 40 are a little less likely to be vaccinated, Dr. Russell says accessibility seems to have something to do with it.
“We recently contacted citizens of this age to understand why vaccination rates are slightly lower,” she explained. We understand that improving access is very important. People are busy, it’s hard to find time to get vaccinated, so now we are trying to make things easier. ”
That’s why the province has set up six mobile walk-in vaccination clinics this week, most notably Boularamos of Bathurst (Thursday) and Dippy (Saturday), and the way to allow people who have not yet received the first or second dose is to be vaccinated.
Dr Russell said she believes the procedure will help boost the immune system. A mobile clinic held Tuesday in Grande-Anse made it possible to vaccinate 119 people with the first dose.
“This is encouraging. We want to continue encouraging people to get vaccinated and enable them to get vaccinated. We hope that the clinic on Tuesday has contributed to this and that other walk-in clinics will also contribute,” she announced.
For population health expert and professor Claire Johnson at the Ecole des Hots Etudes Publics at the University de Moncton, greater access to vaccines will undoubtedly help persuade more young people to wrap their sleeves around them. Their reluctance to be vaccinated is partly explained by the negatives of the vaccine and the risks they run after COVID-19 infection.
“Since the onset of the epidemic, age has been defined as a risk factor and the elderly are at increased risk of serious complications,” Ms Johnson explained. So I think low vaccination rates among those under 40 can be explained, with young people supporting their decision by doing personal analysis. They should therefore be able to persuade more people to adopt collective analysis in their decision-making power. ”
The importance of communication
Claire Johnson of the U’s M believes that New Brunswick Public Health can be inspired by information or popular educational sessions held in British Columbia or Ontario, where reluctance to immunity is high.
Most importantly, New Brunswick health officials “must continue to promote the importance of immunity, which has so far been well reported.”
Dr. Jennifer Russell assured her that communicators across the province were well aware of the importance of reaching out to young people with these messages and hence “this information is being shared on social media”.
“This is another way of trying to reach people who have not yet been vaccinated. People who have already been vaccinated are encouraged to help others by providing transportation or helping to make an appointment. We really want the New Brunswick community to help us.”
Health Minister Dorothy Shepard is also asking all New Brunswickers to encourage their family and friends to get vaccinated.
“We are already seeing the effects of the vaccine. Thanks to them, we are getting the expected results and we need to repeat this message over and over again to promote immunity in our fellow citizens,” she told a news conference on Wednesday.
Public health did not detect new infections on Wednesday and there were only 10 active COVID-19 cases in the province, the lowest level since October. In June, 121 new cases were reported. Of these, only five were found to be fully immunized.
Last month, New Brunswickers, who had been fully vaccinated, was not hospitalized or died from COVID-19.
“There is no doubt that vaccines work and really help improve things,” Dr. Russell adds.
Ms Shepard recalled on Wednesday that after 75% of New Brunswickers received their two-dose vaccine, the New Brunswick government would lift the mandatory order and impose all sanctions to fight the epidemic, “including wearing a mandatory mask”.
“We are reaching our next goal,” she said. At that point, businesses and people need to decide if they want to resume operations immediately, as they did before the epidemic, or if they would like to make the transition more gradual. “
Shepard said the Department of Social Development is currently working with public health to formulate guidelines and recommendations for long-term care facilities after reaching the green stage. Sanctions will be in place at these facilities for two weeks after the lifting of the mandatory order to ensure the well-being and safety of vulnerable residents.