Vaccination of general population to begin in the coming weeks

By Gordon Lambie
Vaccination of general population to begin in the coming weeks
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The Province of Quebec will begin vaccinating the general population against COVID-19 starting next week with people who were born in 1936 or earlier (over 85 years old). According to Premier François Legault, who made the announcement during a press conference in a vaccination clinic at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, the next step of the vaccination campaign will begin in the greater Montreal area next week because of the concentration of cases in that region, and will then pick up in other parts of the province the week after.
“Vaccinating Quebec is beating the virus,” Legault said, calling the announcement a sign of hope for the future while repeating his mantra that people must remain vigilant in the meantime.
With an estimated 100,000 doses of vaccine entering the province each week going forward and approximately 200,000 people over the age of 85 living outside of seniors’ homes and long term care homes Health Minister Christian Dubé estimated that this first phase of vaccinating the general public should take about two weeks, although he said that updates will be given along the way. Public Health is also still in the process of vaccinating people living in seniors’ homes, a task Dubé said is about halfway done at this point.
Those wishing to be vaccinated in the target group will be able to register online or by phone as of this coming Thursday. The Premier and Health Minister emphasized using to register online as a priority, but said that people can also call 1-877-644-4545 if they feel uncomfortable using a computer. People should have their medicare card in hand for both the registration process and when they show up to get their shot, he added.
Legault stressed the point that people who are not in this first age group should not call or try to sign up to avoid clogging the system. He urged people to have patience and let the priority system run its course.
After the questions that were raised earlier this year about delaying the necessary second dose of vaccine, Legault specified that the timing of the booster will be scheduled at the time each person receives their first dose. Dubé added that those who are still waiting on their second dose from past vaccinations are within the established safe window of time and should receive one by the end of March.
Asked about considerations for those with limited mobility Dubé said that limitations on how much the vaccines can be moved around restrict the degree to which doses can be brought to people, but that the province is exploring options that might involve working with community organizations.
In the Eastern Townships, Regional Public Health Director Dr. Alain Poirier said that there are about 20,000 people 80 years old and older living at home, many of whom will be able to take advantage of this new opportunity. He specified that although eligible seniors can register starting at 8 a.m. on Thursday, no vaccination appointments will actually take place in the region until March 15.
Jean Delisle, co-leader of the local vaccination campaign, said that at this point about 6,000 of 8,700 residents in local seniors’ homes have received a first dose, with the remainder to be completed within the next two weeks. As the public vaccinations get started, Delisle said people in the Townships can expect to see vaccination centres open in each of the local health sectors, though at the moment they only exist in Sherbrooke and Granby.
Delisle said that the intention is to follow the provincial priority list as far as the order of vaccination goes, noting that there is no plan for targeted vaccination in any sectors outside of those workers engaged directly with vulnerable seniors.
The province of Québec reported 739 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of people infected to 283,666 with 7,880 active cases. The total number of deaths linked to the virus increased to 10,330 with the report of 13 new deaths and the withdrawal of one previously reported. The number of hospitalizations decreased by nine to 680, the number of people in intensive care increased by three to 120, and 10,209 doses of vaccine were administered, for a total of 365,978 so far out of 509,325 doses received.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants remained stable at 23, while the number of presumptive cases increased to 484.
In the Eastern Townships there were 17 new cases reported for a total of 11,405, with 242 considered active. One new death was recorded at the ExcelSoins residence in the Town of Brome Lake, and the number of hospitalizations increased by two to 20, with three additional people in intensive care.

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