Quebec health ministry announces end of Pfizer vaccine shipments

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Quebec will receive its final scheduled shipment of COVID-19 vaccine next week, and the province says its remaining stock is enough to cover everyone who hasn't yet received two doses, the Health Department said Wednesday.

The province said in a news release 585,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine received this week will be the last shipment that will be distributed to regional health authorities. A final scheduled vaccine shipment of 513,630 doses set to arrive the week of Aug. 9 will be held in reserve.

The Health Department said the reserve will be used to offer first and second doses to people who have not yet received them, to offer additional doses to people who received a mix of vaccines and could be used to give a third dose, if needed, for people who are older or with suppressed immune systems.

Quebec is also winding down a vaccination program that was organized in conjunction with large businesses. Several of those vaccination sites, including one at Montreal-Trudeau International Airport, have already closed, while the rest will close within the coming weeks, the Health Department said.

The government currently has more than 2 million unused doses of COVID-19 vaccine, which officials said is enough to cover all those who aren't fully vaccinated. The province's public health institute says 84.2 per cent of Quebec residents 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine and 69.1 per cent are adequately vaccinated. Health officials said 47,478 doses of vaccine were administered Tuesday.

Quebec reported 184 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, as the number of new daily infections continues to trend up. Officials have reported an average of 160 new daily cases over the past seven days, compared to an average of 74 the previous week.

Premier Francois Legault said in a post on Twitter he's concerned about the rise in new cases and his government will impose "new measures" in the coming days. He did not specify what those would be.

Avec le Directeur de la Santé publique, Dr Arruda.
Comme ailleurs dans le monde, l'augmentation récente du nombre de cas est préoccupante.
Soyons prudents.
Nous annoncerons de nouvelles mesures au cours des prochains jours.
Important d'aller chercher ses 2 doses de vaccins. pic.twitter.com/eL3nBJYoxE

— François Legault (@francoislegault) August 4, 2021

But hospitalizations and deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus have not risen along with the number of new cases. The most recent death linked to the virus reported by provincial health officials occurred July 22.

Officials say 58 people are in hospital with the disease, a number unchanged from the day before, and 17 people were in intensive care, a drop of one.

Trois-Rivieres, Que., northeast of Montreal, had the highest infection rate in the province, with 75 active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. Across Quebec, there were 14.7 active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.

Guillaume Cliche, a spokesman for the regional health authority in Mauricie and Centre-du-Quebec, where Trois-Rivieres is located, said 31 new cases were identified Tuesday, up from 30 the day before. The majority of those cases, 27, were in the Mauricie region, with 16 of those cases detected in the city of Trois-Rivieres.

While public health is continuing to investigate the newly identified cases, Cliche said the vast majority of them involve people 18 to 39 who are not adequately vaccinated. That age group has been the hardest to reach, he said.

In the region, 65.5 per cent of people 18 to 29, and 67.7 per cent of those 30 to 39, have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

The regional health authority has sent a vaccination bus to downtown Trois-Rivieres, and a temporary testing clinic will be open in the city Thursday and Friday, Cliche said.

Public health staff will be walking around in the city's downtown -- where cases have been spreading in local businesses and at private gatherings -- to answer questions about the vaccines and encourage people to make appointments. Teams from public health and Quebec's workplace health and safety board will also be visiting businesses in the area to ensure they're following health orders.

  COVID-19 CASES IN QUEBEC
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-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Aug. 4, 2021. 

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