COVID-19: Quebec won't mandate vaccination for school workers as situation improves

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COVID-19: Quebec won't mandate vaccination for school workers as situation improves

MONTREAL — Quebec won't impose mandatory vaccination on the education sector as the epidemiological situation is improving in the province and vaccination rates in the sector are high, the Health Department said Wednesday.

In a news release, the department said 90 per cent of staff working in preschool, elementary and high schools are adequately vaccinated. In colleges and universities, 92 per cent of staff are adequately vaccinated.

"The excellent vaccine coverage of the student population also helps make campuses safe environments," the department said. "In fact, 90 per cent of college students and 92 per cent of university students are adequately protected against COVID-19."

While vaccination is recommended, it won't be made compulsory in the network.

Quebec officials have been monitoring the pandemic situation since the return to school last month and said outbreaks in schools have been kept under control, with 234 outbreaks currently reported in education settings.

Elementary school students in some regions are required to wear a medical-grade mask and rapid tests have been deployed across the province. Public health officials are also getting ready to vaccinate children aged five to 11 once federal officials approve vaccination for this age bracket.

Meanwhile, Nunavik reported 19 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 114 active cases. It remains the most affected part of the province on a per-capita basis, with 860.3 active cases per 100,000 people.

Health authorities in Quebec's northernmost region said this is the first time there has been widespread community transmission of the virus in the region.

The regional health board reported six communities with confirmed cases. Kangirsuk has the most, with 49 cases. Five communities have been placed under the red alert level, meaning non-essential services are closed and private gatherings are banned. Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafrenière said on Twitter he was in contact with Nunavik authorities to provide support.

Quebec reported 478 new COVID-19 cases across the province on Wednesday, along with four more deaths related to the virus. Health officials said hospitalizations fell by two to 257, while the number of patients in intensive care remained steady at 66.

The province said it vaccinated 10,021 people on Tuesday.

Of the latest reported infections, 345 were among people who were either unvaccinated or who had only received a first dose within the past two weeks.

The province's public health institute said about 90.5 per cent of Quebecers aged 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 87.7 per cent are considered fully vaccinated with two shots.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Oct. 27, 2021.

Virginie Ann, The Canadian Press

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