Quebecers were excitedly lining up for a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine Thursday morning.
The government is now permitting walk-ins at mass vaccination sites across Quebec for those aged 55 and older wanting to get that shot.
In Montreal, David Moore was up bright and early for his chance to be vaccinated. He hopes it’s the “beginning of the end” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m here to stay alive,” he said.
Quebec has hit pause on administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone 55 and younger amid guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization about a possible link between the shot and rare blood clots.
However, officials have said that no “thrombosis-like events” related to the vaccine have been reported in Quebec. The measure is preventive.
Moore said that while he is a bit concerned, he figures his chances of experiencing blood clots are “one in a million.”
“Do it for yourself, do it for your community,” he said. “Don’t be afraid, it’s government approved. Have faith in Health Canada.”
Health Minister Christian Dubé toured the vaccination site at the Olympic Stadium, one of the seven walk-in clinics Montreal. He was pleased to see so many Montrealers answer the call to be vaccinated.
“We are happy,” he said.
The long lines were also welcomed by staff and Quebecers who patiently waited to get their first dose. Clare Gabert described the entire process as “very smooth.”
“Everyone was very pleasant. It was very well organized,” she said. “I’m proud to be Canadian.”
Tal Cantor is one of the nurses administering the AstraZeneca vaccine. He encouraged Montrealers who are eligible to go get their shot.
“There is so much capacity here,” he said.
“We’re trained for this. We’re organized.”
Quebec has also opened vaccination to other priority groups. The chronically ill and essential workers, such as teachers and first responders, in Montreal are up next.
As part of the plan, the province is lowering the minimum age requirement to book an appointment to those who are 60 and older.
The latest expansion comes as Quebec faces a third wave in the pandemic and a rise in new cases.
— with files from Global News’ Brayden Jagger Haines and The Canadian Press