Quebecers will be able to book their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine as early as four weeks after their first dose, starting Tuesday, as the government pushes to accelerate vaccination in time for the start of the school year.
Health Minister Christian Dubé syas he is concerned with the 18-29 age group, which has a lagging vaccination rate of 67%, and specifically the 18-24 group who will make up the bulk of students come August. There are still 115,000 people to reach in order to attain the target rate of 75%, he told reporters at a press conference Monday.
He says pushing forward second-dose appointments will make a big difference.
"We have two months left," he said. "If we want an in-class return for CEGEP and university students, we absolutely need to get even better than 75%."
With the threat of the Delta variant, he said, the pressure is on to reach maximum vaccination rates before Sept.1.
As for scenarios considered in terms of the variant, the health minister said the government is looking at other parts of the world, like the U.K., where the spread is high and the majority of infections are among non-vaccinated people.
"I'm telling you, there is one secret, and that's vaccinating our population," Dubé said.
The government is upping the tone to get the message across to people — and to youth especially — of the urgency at stake.
If the situation were to worsen in the fall, with schools reopening "we'd have to make serious societal choices," Dubé said. "We cannot lock down again. We cannot put people in another lockdown after what we lived through for 15-16 months."
It may mean deciding that certain non-essential services will be available only to those who are fully vaccinated. The public needs to understand that "there are two months left to get vaccinated," Dubé said.
Whether proof of vaccination will be required and how that might work will be announced Thursday, when Dubé gives an update on the vaccination plan.