By Gordon Lambie
As of Tuesday morning, Quebecers should be able to move up their appointment for a second COVID-19 vaccine dose to as soon as four weeks after their initial dose. Speaking at a press conference on Monday afternoon, Health Minister Christian Dubé said that the decision was made in light of the volume of vaccines available and the broader context of COVID-19 in the world.
“I think particularly with the threat of variants that we have right now, people can accelerate,” he said, underlining the fact that the provincial recommendation is still to wait eight weeks based on some research suggesting that the longer wait results in improved immunity as compared to the manufacturer-established minimum of four weeks. Dubé claimed that a second dose as early as four weeks later has been allowed for “weeks” but he acknowledged that the clicsante website has not been set up in a way that allowed people to make an appointment to do so. This structural issue, he said, is what should be resolved as of Tuesday morning.
The Province of Quebec reported 176 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, 49 of which were from Sunday. As a result, the total number of people infected since the start of the pandemic increased to 375,195, with 732 considered active. Only one new death was recorded, for a total of 11,218, and the number of hospitalizations decreased to 102, with 27 in intensive care.
In the Eastern townships there were six new cases added to the overall total since last Wednesday’s report, but the number of active cases in the region decreased by one to 13, with two in Sherbrooke, two in the Coaticook area, seven in the Haute-Yamaska, and one in the Pommeraie. There were no new deaths in the region and the number of hospitalizations remained unchanged at seven, with no one in intensive care.
The total number of vaccine doses administered across the province of Quebec increased to 8,757,940 on Monday, of which 2,704,281 were second doses. As a result, 71.5 per cent of the population is now vaccinated with at least one dose (81.7 per cent of the population 12 and up), and 33.9 per cent are considered adequately vaccinated.
According to Dubé, the 18-29-year-old age brackets are the most concerning in the province when it comes to vaccination coverage, with 115,000 people left to reach the minimum 75 per cent target. The health minister expressed a hope that the increased flexibility in second-dose dates and an increase in drop-in vaccination clinics will help motivate stragglers.
The next update on vaccination in the Eastern Townships is expected on Tuesday.