Quebec is launching its latest COVID-19 vaccination campaign, making the updated shot available in seniors homes and long-term care facilities as of Oct. 2.
The rest of Quebecers will then have access to the vaccine the following week, along with the flu shot, free of charge in vaccination centres and pharmacies. The updated vaccine was created specially to better protect against variants currently circulating.
Quebec public health authorities are recommending the vaccine for everyone, but especially for those considered at-risk and those who have not yet been infected with COVID-19.
Despite a recent spike in the number of COVID cases in the province, public health director Dr. Luc Boileau says Quebec isn’t currently in a crisis situation because the number of hospitalizations remains relatively low.
“We’re calculating that there’s not a major risk,” Boileau said.
Still, he says it’s important for those considered at-risk to get the vaccine to reduce the chances of hospitalization and serious illness. Those considered at-risk include pregnant women and parents of children younger than six months old, as well as people with chronic health issues and those aged 60 and over.
“I understand people might be tired about getting a vaccine, but it’s really similar to influenza so we start a new season, we have new viruses circulating, there’s a vaccine that’s been updated for what is going around,” said Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, president of Quebec’s immunization committee. “I think now is the time to get it.”
Public health is also asking anyone with respiratory virus symptoms to take certain precautions, even when testing negative for COVID-19.
Boileau says anyone with a fever should stay home, and those with a cough or runny nose should wear a mask when in public to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
As for the COVID-19 rapid testing kits, Boileau emphasizes they are still effective, even with the new variants circulating.
The kits are available for free at vaccination centres, as well as in pharmacies for certain people considered at-risk.