The provincial government announced this week they would begin giving Quebecers 70 and over the COVID-19 booster shot for free in an effort to stave off a fifth wave of the pandemic, Health Minister Christian Dube said.
The government said the “optional booster dose is intended to optimize the effectiveness of vaccine coverage.”
Quebec is already administering boosters in seniors’ residences and long-term care homes (CHSLDs), and to people who are immunocompromised or on dialysis.
By the end of the month, all residents of CHSLDs and private seniors’ homes will have been offered a third vaccine dose, Dubé said.
Appointments will be available on the government’s Clic Sante portal.
In a new report, made public recently, the Comité sur l’immunisation du Québec also said it “considers it acceptable for people aged 70 to 79 to take advantage of (third doses), but the benefit of a booster dose seems less obvious at the present time” because immunity levels remain high in this age group.
Those 80 and older can get their shots as of November 16. Quebecers aged 75 and over must wait until November 18 and those 70 and older can register as of November 23.
Over and above that age group, the government will open up booster shots to anyone who received two shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“I want to reassure the population, it’s not because we are worried about AstraZeneca, it’s because we want to make sure there’s an extra protection — especially after six months,” Dube said.
Recipients of AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson who opt for a booster will get for an mRNA vaccine – Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, Quebec said.
Dubé said the rollout of boosters will not affect the vaccination of children aged five to 11. The province said it hopes to be able to offer a first dose of the vaccine to those kids by the end of 2021.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is expected to be approved for this age group in the coming weeks.
Elsewhere, the province’s workplace safety board is urging companies and employers to follow its directives, with more Quebecers expected to go back to the office starting Monday.
As of Tuesday, the minimum distance between two people can go from two metres to one metre, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) said in a press release Tuesday.
“However, if this distance cannot be maintained, personal protective equipment or a physical barrier should continue to be used,” the statement said.
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase