Quebec is expanding its COVID-19 vaccination rollout to include more people with chronic illnesses and those with intellectual and physical disabilities, the province’s health minister said Thursday.
Christian Dubé made the announcement in the company of Dr. Horacio Arruda, director of Quebec public health, and Daniel Paré, head of the inoculation campaign.
“We can now, with the recommendation of public health, expand to other vulnerable groups,” he said.
Under the plan, the province is widening access to include more people under the age of 60 with chronic illnesses starting Friday. The category includes diabetes, obesity and respiratory problems.
Prior to that, only people who were considered very high risk or requiring hospital care were able to receive a first dose.
Quebecers who have intellectual or physical disabilities can also register for this first shot starting April 28. Caregivers of eligible people are also able to book a vaccine appointment.
Dubé said he’s counting on the good faith of people to identify themselves if they qualify and not to take advantage of the self-identification system if they don’t, adding that anyone who thinks they fit into one of the categories should not hesitate to get vaccinated.
He also said he is confident the supply the province has will be sufficient to inoculate the additional groups.
The priority is to vaccinate those who are vulnerable before opening up inoculation to all adults, he added.
“We’re talking about weeks,” he said, adding that vaccination sites are ready for a ramped-up rollout but need more vaccines.
The latest change comes after the province dropped the minimum age requirement for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from 55 to 45 this week. As a result, newly eligible Montrealers have been flocking to vaccination centres.
Quebec’s goal is to give a first jab to any adult who wants one by June 24. The province has given more than 2.5 million doses since the campaign started last December.
— With files from the Canadian PressView link »