By Gordon Lambie
On Tuesday afternoon, Quebec’s Health Minister announced an expanded range of people who will be eligible for COVID-19 booster shots, including people with chronic illnesses, people living in isolated communities, healthcare workers, and pregnant women. According to Christian Dubé, the newly eligible group includes about 1 million people, all of whom can now get a third shot, if they wish, provided that it has been at least six months since their second dose.
The health minister also announced that the booster campaign for people aged 60 to 69 will be getting started at the beginning of January so as to not interfere with the campaigns currently underway.
The Province reported 1,234 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of people infected to 457,059 with 10,530 active cases. There were five new deaths recorded, bringing that total to 11,594.
The were were 235 people in hospital due to the virus, an increase of nine overall from Monday, but the number of people in intensive care went down by four, to 58.
Although Dubé acknowledged that there has been a rise in the number of active cases in recent weeks, he pointed out that the number of hospitalizations has remained relatively stable. Based on that fact, and projections that that will remain the case for the next several weeks, the health minister announced that as of Dec. 23, the capacity limit for gatherings in private homes will be increased to 20 on the condition that all those people are vaccinated.
“Please make sure that these are vaccinated people and that someone is checking the vaccination passports,” said provincial public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda, who discouraged unvaccinated people from gathering in large groups due to increased transmission risks.
The number of active cases in the Eastern Townships increased to 1,387 on Monday, with no significant shift in the concentration of cases or rates of infection across sub-regions. The number of hospitalizations in the region increased to 23, with eight in intensive care.
To date, 191,423 young people aged 5 to 11 have received a first dose of the vaccine against COVID-19 and 91,077 are awaiting their appointment. Speaking of the 5–11-year-old vaccination campaign, Dubé expressed optimism that the vaccine in combination with the upcoming holiday break will help bring some of the outbreaks in the province’s schools back under control for the start of the new year.