Quebec hopes to have kids inoculated with first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by Christmas

·2 min read

MONTREAL — Quebec is aiming to have the 700,000 children aged five to 11 in the province vaccinated with one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by Christmas, Health Minister Christian Dubé said Friday, adding that they won't be subject to the vaccine passport system.

Dubé made the comments in Montreal, in reaction to news Friday that Health Canada approved for children the vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech.

"With the experience that we have (with vaccination) and the staff that we have, we could have the roughly 700,000 (eligible) kids vaccinated before Christmas," Dubé told reporters, adding that the government was waiting on the province's immunization committee for guidance.

Health authorities, Dubé said, haven't released their ideal vaccination rate for children aged five to 11, but he said they are hopeful it will be high given the first-dose rate for children aged 12 to 17 is 95 per cent and the second-dose rate is 87 per cent.

"Our objective is to have the highest percentage possible," he said of the five-to-11 group. He added that there was no plan to implement a vaccine passport for younger children. Residents aged 13 and older, however, have to show proof of vaccination to enter many businesses and to take part in many activities the government deems non-essential.

Since July 2020, about 3,300 adults have responded every week to an online survey by the province's public health institute, composed of questions about the pandemic and public health measures. A margin of error cannot be assigned because the survey does not comprise a random sample of respondents.

According to the results, 61 per cent of parents of children aged five to 11 say they "totally agree" or "somewhat agree" they intend to have their children vaccinated. Meanwhile, 21 per cent of parents "totally disagree" and seven per cent "somewhat disagree," according to the survey conducted between Oct. 29 and Nov. 16.

Dubé said the government is planning to vaccinate children at the province's mass vaccination centres and at schools. "We'll let the parents decide; I think this is especially more important for younger kids that the parents feel safe," Dubé said. "That will be a very nice Christmas gift … if all our kids are vaccinated before Christmas."

Meanwhile, Quebec reported 745 new COVID-19 cases Friday and two more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. COVID-19-related hospitalizations dropped by four compared with the prior day, to 201, and 45 people were in intensive care, a drop of one.

The province administered 11,413 COVID-19 vaccine doses on Thursday. Quebec's public health institute said 91 per cent of residents 12 and over have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 88.6 per cent were fully vaccinated.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2021.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting