MONTREAL — Quebec will deploy sound trucks in hard-hit Montreal neighbourhoods to announce the presence of mobile clinics offering Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, Health Minister Christian Dube said Friday.
There will be more than 20,000 doses of that vaccine available with or without appointments over the weekend, Dube said on Twitter.
He said sound trucks will blast messages in multiple languages along residential streets in western Montreal and in the city's diverse Cote-des-Neiges borough, adding that the AstraZeneca vaccine is for those 55 and over.
"We are waiting for a decision from public health to extend the age for which (AstraZeneca) can be administered," the minister said.
Dube said since the government lowered the eligible age for the AstraZeneca vaccine to 55, about 160,000 more people have been vaccinated, 22,000 of them in Montreal.
But data provided by the province's Health Department suggests many eligible Quebecers haven't taken up the offer.
"In Quebec, more than 635,000 people aged 55 to 79 have still not been vaccinated and have not made an appointment to get the vaccine," the department said in an email. Quebec has received 411,200 doses of AstraZeneca and 267,000 remain unused.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is available to Quebecers between the ages of 55 and 79 at walk-in clinics and by appointment across the province. Quebec suspended use of that vaccine in those younger than 55 over concerns about rare blood clots in a small number of recipients.
On Wednesday, Health Canada said it still considers the vaccine extremely safe and effective despite evidence it may cause blood clots on rare occasions.
Meanwhile, Quebec set a pair of records for COVID-19 injections, inoculating 74,927 people on Thursday — the highest single-day number of Quebecers vaccinated since the campaign started. That daily total included 15,522 doses administered in pharmacies, also a record.
The seven-day average for shots is 66,000 per day, well above what had been planned for April, Dube said Friday. Health officials said Quebec has vaccinated 26 per cent of the population with at least one dose.
The pace of the vaccine rollout bodes well for the province's plan to dole out 5.3 million doses — one for every adult — by the Fete nationale holiday on June 24, Dube said.
Quebec reported 1,527 new COVID-19 cases Friday and seven more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Hospitalizations were up by three patients, to 664, and eight more people were in intensive care, for a total of 167.
Montreal reported 355 cases, followed by the Quebec City area with 294 and Chaudiere-Appalaches, south of the capital region, with 204.
Quebec has reported 334,071 COVID-19 infections and 10,785 deaths linked to the virus since the beginning of the pandemic. There are 13,941 active reported cases in the province.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 16, 2021.
The Canadian Press