Quebec broke a COVID-19 vaccination record for the second consecutive day as the province reported 1,043 new cases Friday.
The third wave of the pandemic also led to another 15 deaths, including six in the past 24 hours. Authorities say seven Quebecers died between April 16 and 21 while two fatalities occurred earlier in the month.
The province administered 88,000 shots on Thursday, surpassing the 85,000 vaccinations a day earlier.
Health Minister Christian Dubé says Quebec has now delivered 2.6 million first jabs — 50 per cent of the goal of getting 5.3 million adults their first shot by June 24.
“We have picked up the pace in recent days,” he wrote on Twitter. “The network is efficient and agile. Thanks to the teams.”
When it comes to hospitalizations linked to the new coronavirus, there was a significant drop. There are 27 fewer patients for a total of 684.
This includes 172 people in intensive care units, a decrease of two from the previous day.
The latest screening information shows 46,993 tests were given Wednesday.
Quebec’s caseload now stands at 342,688. The health crisis has killed 10,860 Quebecers to date, representing nearly half of the country’s pandemic-related deaths.
Recoveries, however, have now reached 320,302.
Long-term care residents should get booster shot, committee says
Quebec’s immunization committee issued a report Friday recommending the province consider giving long-term care residents a second dose of vaccine as quickly as possible.
The report from April 12 said the committee was concerned about the percentage of unvaccinated health-care workers in the long-term care network.
It said it feared the workers could carry the virus into facilities and infect vulnerable residents who haven’t been fully vaccinated.
As of April 11, 57 per cent of long-term care workers had received at least one dose of vaccine. The committee said more needs to be done to encourage workers to be vaccinated.
A directive issued by the province’s Health Department on Thursday instructs regional health authorities to give all long-term care residents their second dose by May 8 — even if that is less than the 112-day window between the two shots established by the provincial government.
In cases when residents are at or near the end of the 112-day window, health boards are instructed to vaccinate people as soon as possible — a phrase that is underlined and in bold in the document signed by public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda.
Dr. Sophie Zhang, who oversees 15 long-term care centres in Montreal, said the new directive will help provide maximum protection for patients who remain vulnerable despite having received one dose.
“I am pleased to see that the government has been swift in responding to our request that the second dose be given immediately to long-term care residents,” she said in an email.
Ideally, people would receive the same vaccine for both shots, but with supply shortages and “the fact that most vaccine experts are fairly confident a mixed-dose regime will be safe and effective, I think this is the right thing to do,” she added.
Four new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Quebec’s long-term care system on Friday, bringing the total number of reported active cases to 118.
Residents at the long-term care centres that Zhang oversees will start receiving a second dose — of the Pfizer vaccine — on Monday, she said. Those residents, who originally received the Moderna vaccine, had been scheduled to get their second shot on April 16, but the inoculations were cancelled due to supply shortages.
— With files from The Canadian Press’ Jacob Serebrin