COVID-19 vaccinations lagging in Montreal, Laval compared to rest of Quebec

Montreal and Laval, two of the cities in Quebec most affected by COVID-19 infections, have some of the lowest vaccination rates, according to data from the Institut national de santé publique (INSPQ).

This is due to a large number of people who fear vaccines, have low trust in governments, or poor past experiences with the health care system, the report states.

Laurence Monnais, a historian with Université de Montréal, says difficulties getting to clinics and an inability to take time off work to get vaccinated may also explain lower rates.

The INSPQ reports about 70 per cent of Quebecers aged 12 and over have so far received at least one dose of the vaccine. This number is only 67.5 per cent in Montreal and 67.3 per cent in Laval.

Public health states the rate is about 70 per cent in the more affluent neighbourhoods.

In Montreal North, one of the most disadvantaged areas, the vaccination rate is only 43.8 per cent. The rate of COVID-19 contamination is 8,545 cases per 100,000 residents in the borough, the second highest in Quebec.

Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension and Saint-Léonard also have vaccination rates under 50 per cent.

Monnais insists it's not enough to convince people to get vaccinated; officials must also find out why some people are refusing to be inoculated.

The lowest rate in Quebec, according to the INSPQ, is in Nunavik.

Doctor Marie Rochette, director of public health in that region, admits one of the biggest problems is many people fear potential side effects from vaccines, as well as potential racism towards Indigenous people from workers in Quebec's health care system.

Nevertheless, Nunavik remains one of the areas in Quebec with the fewest cases of COVID-19, which may also explain why people are choosing not to get inoculated, Rochette adds.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 3, 2021.

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