Quebec is opening up its COVID-19 vaccination campaign to the general public over the next two weeks, after initially focusing on its list of priority groups.
Health Minister Christian Dubé made the announcement on Thursday, saying the province has been gearing up for this moment for months.
As of Friday, those between the ages of 50 and 59 can book an appointment on the government’s Clic Santé website.
On May 3, booking will open up to people between the ages of 45 and 49, then two days later to those between the ages of 40 and 44 can register, and so on.
“We’re going to drop the age bracket every two days,” Dubé said, specifying appointments are to be booked by age and not date of birth.
By May 14, booking is expected to open up to Quebecers aged between 18 and 24 years.
Dubé said that large shipments of vaccines are expected over the next few weeks, allowing for the inoculation of the population at large.
Quebec’s top doctor’s relief was palpable on Thursday.
“I can tell you that not having enough vaccine was a nightmare, a nightmare to make choices between groups,” said Dr. Horacio Arruda, adding that now it was like a “dream come true.”
“I hope that the population will be there because the vaccine is the way to get away from that terrible disease.”
Dubé stressed, however, that speeding up vaccinations doesn’t mean adding an extra burden on the health-care system.
Several companies with adequate space and resources answered the minister’s call in March to register as inoculation hubs, in a bid to take pressure off workers on the front lines of the pandemic while also vaccinating as many people as possible.
“Starting next week, 10 businesses will already be in action to vaccinate their employees, their families and the population of the region,” Dubé said.
Pharmacies will be receiving additional doses, as well.
“Now, we will without a doubt reach our June 24 objective,” Dubé said.
The government had set that day as its deadline for giving at least one dose to all Quebecers over the age of 18 who want to get a shot.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will continue to be made available only to those over the age of 45 years old. As for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Arruda said a decision has yet to be made.
“Looking at our epidemiology, we don’t intend on going below 45 years of age for AstraZeneca,” he said. “As for Johnson, we are waiting for the advice of the Institut national de santé publique but I anticipate it will be the same thing, that we won’t give it to those below 45.”
Despite the good news, Dubé said it was too soon to talk about loosening restrictions.View link »