Quebec to begin vaccinating general population next week, starting with age 85 and up
Quebec will begin vaccinating the general population next week, beginning with Montreal-area seniors aged 85 and up, Premier Francois Legault said Tuesday.
All seniors in the province born in 1936 or earlier will be able to make an appointment for vaccination through an online portal or by telephone as early as Thursday, Legault told reporters at Montreal's Olympic Stadium, a future mass vaccination site.
The premier said the province's vaccination plan is well underway: all long-term care residents, about half of residents in seniors homes and almost 200,000 health-care workers have received a first dose.
The province has not begun giving second doses.
If all goes according to plan, all of Quebec's oldest and most vulnerable seniors should be vaccinated within a few weeks, the premier said. ``We finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and it's not so far away.''
Legault, however, said Quebecers must continue to be careful, warning that it takes about three weeks for the vaccine to reach full effectiveness.
In the meantime, Quebec will have to contend with an ever-rising number of COVID-19 variant cases, as well as a spring break week that authorities fear could cause new cases to bound upwards. ``We must avoid gatherings to avoid a third wave,'' Legault said.
Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter that Quebec is expecting to receive more than 107,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 28,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week, which he said will allow the province to accelerate the pace of immunizations.
The province reported 739 new cases Tuesday and 13 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including one that occurred in the past 24 hours.
COVID-19-related hospitalizations dropped by nine, to 680, and the number of intensive care patients rose by three, to 120.
The number of suspected cases of coronavirus variants continued to rise on Monday, up to 484 from 415 the day prior, according to Quebec's government-mandated public health institute. The number of confirmed cases remained unchanged at 23.
Quebec has reported a total of 10,330 deaths linked to the virus and 283,666 infections.