With Quebec's COVID-19 cases on the decline, top doctor clarifies who should get booster shots

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Dr. Luc Boileau, Quebec's interim public health director, says the province's COVID-19 situation is very encouraging, adding 'all indicators suggest that we can gradually return to normal.'   (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Dr. Luc Boileau, Quebec's interim public health director, says the province's COVID-19 situation is very encouraging, adding 'all indicators suggest that we can gradually return to normal.' (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada - image credit)

With the COVID-19 situation in Quebec continuing to improve and the mask mandate ending in just a few days, the province's interim public health director is renewing his call for people to get their first and second booster shots — clarifying which groups should receive what.

Dr. Luc Boileau said third doses — or the first booster shot — are recommended for all adults, including pregnant women and health-care workers. He said it is also recommended for teenagers aged 12 to 17 who are at high risk of complications from COVID-19, or those that live in congregate settings.

Fourth doses — or the second booster shot — however, are only recommended for specific groups who are at high risk of getting severe COVID.

This includes people living in long-term care homes and seniors' residences, immunocompromised people, people aged 80 and over living in the community and people living in environments with a high proportion of seniors and vulnerable people.

As of last week, all adults became eligible for fourth doses, but Boileau said there is no recommendation for the general public to receive one.

People are advised to wait at least three months from their last dose of vaccine or COVID-19 infection to receive a booster shot.

Dropping masks, a gradual 'return to normal'

The COVID-19 update came as Quebec's provincial health institute published new projections Wednesday that suggest a drop in new hospitalizations to approximately 55 per day over the next two weeks.

The Institut national d'excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS) said it also expects a decrease in the number of regular and intensive-care beds occupied by COVID patients.

Based on the data collected between April 30 and May 6, the number of new COVID-related hospitalizations in the province has dropped for the third consecutive week.

Boileau, who was joined by pediatric infectious diseases specialist Dr. Caroline Quach and public health medical advisor Dr. Marie-France Raynault, said the news is very encouraging.

"Deaths, hospitalizations, absences — all indicators suggest that we can gradually return to normal," he said.

As of Saturday, Quebec's mask mandate will be lifted in all indoor public spaces, except for public transit, long-term care homes and health-care settings.

Despite dropping the health measure, Boileau said he doesn't expect the number of cases or hospitalizations to rise. He is, however, encouraging people who are at high risk of complications from COVID to continue to wear masks.

When asked how scrapping the measure for the general public might affect these vulnerable people, Raynault said the province will work to "enhance the tolerance" of mask-wearing.

She said the province will also recommend people wear masks in crowded places where there may be vulnerable people "as a politeness" to them.

"We'll try to go more by education than by law to help these people," she said.

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