Quebec calling for more vaccination in 18-40 age group

By Gordon Lambie
Quebec calling for more vaccination in 18-40 age group
(Photo : Matthew McCully)

On Tuesday afternoon Quebec Premier Francois Legault called on people 18-40 years old in the province who have not already signed up for or received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to do so within the next week. Noting a slow-down in the rate at which people in that younger age group are being vaccinated at the same time that the province is preparing to start moving up the second-dose schedule, the premier said that just because things seem to be going well is no reason to put off getting a shot.
“Get your first dose as soon as possible, we need you to get back to our normal life,” Legault said.
According to Health Minister Christian Dubé the average coverage in the 18-44 group is at around 65 per cent but has seen a decrease in response within the last week or so. With that number at least 10 per cent below the government’s minimum goal, he said that new initiatives are being explored to try to encourage the vaccine hesitant to register.
In the Eastern Townships, one of those measures is a daily distribution of drop-in vaccination tickets at clinics across the region. Beginning Tuesday and continuing through Friday, June 4, a pre-set number of doses will be available without an appointment at specific vaccination clinics in Sherbrooke, Val-des-Sources, Magog, East Angus, Lac Mégantic, Coaticook, Windsor, Granby, and Cowansville. Details on the specific timing, location, and number of shots available can be found (in French) at https://www.santeestrie.qc.ca/nouvelle/vaccin-contre-la-covid-19/.
According to Jean Delisle, director of the local vaccination campaign, more than 79 per cent of people in the Townships have set up an appointment or received their first dose, and 5.9 per cent are now considered completely vaccinated. He shared that there is great enthusiasm in the
12-17 age group, where 57 per cent either have an appointment or are vaccinated, but he added that there is room for more in their 20s to sign up, as that age group has plateaued around 60 per cent coverage.
Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), meanwhile, released new recommendations stating that either the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD COVID-19 vaccine or an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product may be offered for a second dose for those who received AstraZeneca for a first dose. The notice from the committee refers to mixing doses as “ethically justifiable,” based on the fact that Canada is anticipating large enough supplies of mRNA vaccines in the summer months to make up the difference.
The NACI notes that recent Canadian surveys have found respondents more comfortable with mRNA vaccines compared to viral vector vaccines, but intention to vaccinate has been increasing despite differences in comfort levels between vaccines. A study in late April found that most participants were more comfortable with Pfizer (92%) and Moderna (90%) vaccines, and comfort levels for AstraZeneca have increased since early April from 41% to 52%. Of those who were uncomfortable with the viral vector vaccines, 37% reported they would accept a vaccine if offered, 34% would reject, and 29% were unsure. The most recent Canadian studies report that intention to vaccinate is increasing and currently varies between 66-80% in the general public and 57-82% in healthcare workers across Canada
As of Tuesday morning, the province reported a total of 5,648,992 vaccination doses administered out of 6,376,347 doses received in total. This accounts for first-dose coverage in 61.3 per cent of the population and adequate coverage in 7.1 per cent.
304,869 people have received a first dose in the Eastern Townships, accounting for 60.3 per cent of the regional population, with 29,580 having received a second dose so far.
Aside from the vaccine deficit, Legault said that the situation in Quebec continues to improve to the point where, as of next Monday, there will be no red alert zones left in the province, and several regions in the province will be able to shift to either yellow or green alert status. While hailing this as good news, he underlined the fact that it is to be expected that there might be slight rise in cases as restrictions are lifted, particularly in the Montreal area due to the population density.
Quebec reported only 208 new cases provincewide on Tuesday, bringing the total number of people infected to 370,527, with 3,609 active cases. There were five new deaths, for a total of 11,133 since the start of the pandemic
The number of people in hospital for COVID-19 decreased by eight, to 354, and the number of people in intensive care decreased by three, to 86.
The Eastern Townships reported 28 new cases and 298 active cases alongside no new deaths. As of Tuesday morning there were 29 people hospitalized and one person in intensive care, a very slight decrease from the previous day.

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