Vaccination rates have slowed in Nova Scotia, and the tally of double-vaccinated residents is among the highest in Canada at around 71 percent, but premier Tim Houston says the 75 percent vaccination target must be reached before the province moves into the final phase of reopening from COVID and loosening public health restrictions.
“That 75 percent is the hurdle. If that’s not met, we don’t start Phase 5,” Houston said following a cabinet meeting Thursday. The province put September 15 as the target date to hit the Phase 5 requirements. Once this final phase begins, mask-wearing will be voluntary and physical distancing will no longer be required.
“We really encourage vaccination, we hope people will get their first dose if they haven't had it yet, and we certainly hope people will get their second doses as soon as possible.”
When asked how the province will encourage higher vaccination levels, Houston says there will be continued awareness campaigns from public health, but he didn’t say what different approach the government might take. Houston says he appreciates that private businesses and universities are making their own moves to require vaccination.
“There’s some in the private industry as they’re coming up with their own vaccination policies, we’re seeing educational institutions try to help move the vaccination rate with their policies,” he said. “We’ll work with any partners in that respect, and we’re always open to new ideas.”
As of Friday, the province reported that 71.4 percent of residents have been double dosed, and 78 percent have had at least one shot. For about six weeks from the middle of June, the number of fully vaccinated Nova Scotians increased sharply, growing roughly 10 percent every week—from five percent to 65 percent of the population fully vaxxed (The Coast’s graph of local vaccination rates is below).
In early August, the rate slowed as Nova Scotia approached a vaccination plateau, and over the past month the numbers have been rising painfully slowly—from 65 percent to 71.4 percent fully vaxxed today. At this rate, Nova Scotia will be reporting about 73.6 percent fully vaccinated on September 15. Chief medical officer of health Robert Strang says there are 8,000 fully vaccinated members of the military in Nova Scotia who aren’t counted in provincial stats, but even including them (less than one percent of the population) wouldn’t get Nova Scotia to 75 percent in time if the current rate stays the same or slows further.