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Parents of schoolchildren in parts of Montreal being moved to front of COVID-19 vaccination line

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WATCH: Montreal public health has announced a vaccination campaign targeting parents of schoolchildren in two Montreal neighbourhoods that have seen a surge of COVID-19 variant infections. Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports – Mar 18, 2021

Montreal public health is launching a pilot project to vaccinate the parents of school- and daycare-aged children in emerging hot spots for the COVID-19 variants in a bid to quash transmission and limit cases in those areas.

The move comes after Dr. Mylène Drouin, director of Montreal public health, said Wednesday that the Plamondon district in Côte-des-Neiges and the city of Côte Saint-Luc have seen a rise in cases of variants, which are more contagious.

“The virus is moving from one place to another,” she told reporters Thursday during a press conference.

She explained targeted vaccination will last two weeks in order to get variants under control in the city’s west end and to prevent the spread to other parts of Montreal. Eligible parents will be able to go to four different sites for their first dose, but they must bring proof their child attends a school or daycare centre in the affected areas.

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Read more: Third COVID-19 wave to eventually strike Montreal, top doctor warns

Drouin said there is a “pattern of the transmission” of the variants from “daycare centres and schools and then to homes,” where they then spread through the community. Côte Saint-Luc and Plamondon represent 26 per cent of new infections linked to variants.

“We are not seeing community transmission of the variants in other neighbourhoods,” she said.

The pilot project, which will begin next Monday, will focus solely on vaccinating parents, according to Drouin. Public health is also considering inoculating teachers in those schools, but that’s not on the table for now.

“We are evaluating the possibility of including them in the project,” Drouin said.

That decision is being criticized by some members of the school community, however. Mordechai Antal, president of the Jewish School Federation, said he was surprised that teachers and support staff aren’t included in the plans.

“If you are going to do that, you have to plan it out well and include everyone who is with the kids,” he said.

Read more: Province announces easing of COVID-19 measures, predicts all Quebecers vaccinated by June 24

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The targeted vaccination is part of a larger effort to keep the mutations of the novel coronavirus at bay in Montreal. Public health is hoping to delay the onset of a third wave of the pandemic with aggressive screening measures and ramping up inoculation.

The decision to expand vaccination is being welcomed by affected parents.

“I think it makes sense to vaccinate the people that are the vector of transmission rather than those who are the most vulnerable,” said Rafael Najnanobich.

To date, Quebec has focused on vaccinating priority groups such as residents in long-term care homes and health-care workers.

The province has since expanded eligibility to anyone who is 70 and older in most areas, while the minimum age requirement is 65 in Montreal. Earlier this week, Premier François Legault said his goal is to give the first dose to all adults who want one by June 24.

With files from Global News’ Brayden Jagger Haines

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