Delays for Seniors, Contradictions in the vaccine rollout

As other jurisdictions roll out detailed plans for COVID-19 vaccinations, delays and contradictions confuse Nova Scotians, says Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, PC MLA for Cumberland North.

“When you look across the country, provinces have laid out detailed plans for their vaccine rollout with clear expectations for when people will receive their shot, and that has not been the case in Nova Scotia,” says Smith-McCrossin.

Smith-McCrossin says that many seniors have struggled to book a vaccine appointment. Initially, the province had seniors ages 80 and over book together, before walking that promise back and narrowing appointments by the month of their birth. PC MLA Keith Bain noted last week that doctors in rural areas are ready to help the province speed up the process and help more seniors get vaccinated.

Smith-McCrossin says the same applies in Cumberland North.

“Seniors are calling me telling me they can’t get an appointment,” said Smith-McCrossin. “Whether they’re 80 years old and born in January or 89 and born in December, it’s been difficult to get vaccinated.”

Nova Scotians are rightfully confused that we are the only province not to be prioritizing vaccinations for those with underlying health conditions.

“Just yesterday, New Brunswick opened vaccine appointments to those with complex medical conditions. Yet those who live on our side of the border will need to wait until the government gets to their age cohort - regardless of health conditions,” says Smith-McCrossin.

The PCs also advocated for moving police officers and first responders back into phase 2 after they were quietly moved out earlier this year. Last week, the government quietly moved them back in. Smith-McCrossin is asking if these constant changes to the vaccine rollout means the plan is still open to adjustments and if the government will take the help from local doctors and nurses.

“What do Nova Scotians, such as those with complex health conditions, have to do to be moved up in vaccine priority?” asks Smith-McCrossin. “If the quickest way to vaccinate the public is to avoid specific groups, why is every other province prioritizing people with complex health conditions and still roll out vaccines ahead of us?”

As of March 18th, Nova Scotia has only provided vaccines to 3.7% of the population. In contrast, our neighbours in New Brunswick and PEI have vaccinated 5.46% and 6.99%. Nova Scotia has also only administered 46.3% of vaccines received, compared to 58.7% in New Brunswick and 76.5% in PEI.