By Gordon Lambie
As of this coming Monday, June 7, Quebecers who have already received a first dose of vaccine will be able to move up the date of their second dose, beginning with those who are 80 years of age and older. According to Health Minister Christian Dubé, who made the announcement on Thursday afternoon, appointments will open up by age group every weekday over the month of June, with everyone 18 years of age or older able to reschedule their second dose by June 23.
“This represents about 3 million doses to change over the course of two months,” Dubé said, explaining that although the schedule change has been made possible in the hope of being able to get everyone adequately vaccinated as soon as possible, the task represents a significant organizational challenge.
Regardless of the date when a particular age group is able to re-schedule, a gap of at least eight weeks is still required between doses of the approved mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna. The province modified that limit on Thursday as well, dropping it from the previous limit of 16 weeks based, according to Dubé, mainly on the fact that supply now allows for a faster distribution.
Second doses of AstraZeneca have already been available to those eligible since May 29 at identified vaccination clinics. Anyone who received AstraZeneca for a first dose who wishes to get an mRNA vaccine as a second dose after vaccine mixing was deemed possible earlier this week, the eight-week minimum timeframe is still required.
The province’s new goal is to have all Quebecers adequately vaccinated by August 31.
Dubé also said that the province has met its 75 per cent vaccination coverage goal three weeks earlier than expected, even though the province’s numbers showed only a 62.7 per cent coverage for first doses, with 7.6 per cent considered adequately vaccinated. Despite his celebrations, the health minister said that there are still four individual age categories that have not reached the 75 per cent minimum, accounting for about 220,000 people, 120,000 of whom are in Montreal and Laval.
The Province of Quebec reported 267 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total number of people infected to 371,082, with 3,356 active cases.
There were six new deaths recorded, for a total of 11,144 since the start of the pandemic.
Hospitalizations decreased by 23 to reach 317, and the number of people in intensive care dropped by nine, to 68.
The Eastern Townships reported only six new cases, although that is partly due to the withdrawal of four cases previously reported in the Haut-Saint-François. Out of the 14,753 cases in the region over the course of the pandemic, 231 were considered active on Thursday. There were 27 people hospitalized for the virus in the region, three of whom are in intensive care, and the total number of local deaths remained unchanged at 348.
In terms of the local vaccination campaign, 311,719 have now received a first dose of vaccine in the townships, accounting for 61.6 per cent of the eligible population. Out of those people, 6.3 per cent, or 31,735 have also received a second dose. Across age groups 23.4 per cent of 12-17-year-olds have received a first dose along with 49.5 per cent of those 18-29, 56.9 per cent of those 30-39, 69.2 per cent of those 40-49, 79.6 per cent of those 50-59, 87.7 per cent of those 60-69, and 92.2 per cent of those 70 and older. Regional coverage ranges between 57.8 per cent in the Haut-Saint-François and 65.8 per cent in Memphremagog.