Quebec changes COVID-19 vaccine strategy, won't hold back doses for booster shots

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MONTREAL -- Quebec is changing its COVID-19 vaccine strategy in order to inoculate as many people as possible instead of holding back doses for booster shots.

The province's health department said Thursday it plans to use all the doses it has received -- and those it expects to receive in the coming weeks -- to more quickly inoculate priority groups.

Quebec says vaccine-maker Pfizer had requested the province reserve half the doses as booster shots for those already vaccinated. That strategy had been criticized by health experts who said the province's vaccine rollout was taking too long.

The province has so far received 87,000 doses of vaccine -- 55,000 doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and 32,500 from Moderna -- and has administered 29,250 injections.

Health Minister Christian Dubé announced just yesterday that the Moderna doses had arrived, writing on Twitter that the province would begin "picking up the pace."

Meanwhile, Quebec City's regional health authority says almost 100 people at a long-term care home -- both residents and staff -- have tested positive for COVID-19 after they were vaccinated. The Saint-Antoine long-term care home was the site of the first COVID-19 vaccination in Canada.

Dr. Gaston De Serres, the chief physician of the scientific immunization group at Quebec's national public health institute, says it can take up to 14 days for someone to develop immunity to COVID-19 after receiving a vaccine.

Quebec exceeded the 200,000 COVID-19 case mark today after officials reported a record 2,819 new infections. The province also reported 62 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including 22 that occurred in the past 24 hours.

Quebec has reported a total of 202,641 COVID-19 cases and 8,226 deaths linked to the virus.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 31, 2020.

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