Strong demand for COVID-19 vaccines for kids 12 to 17, Montreal health unit says

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MONTREAL — An immunization centre in Montreal that opened to teens over the weekend had to order more Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines on Sunday after experiencing "exceptional demand" from the 12 to 17 age group.

Carl Thériault of the Integrated Health and Social Services University Network for West-Central Montreal said that while appointment booking for youth aged 12 and up formally starts on Tuesday, officials at the walk-in clinic at Bill-Durnan arena decided to begin accepting teens over the weekend.

He said the word quickly spread, resulting in a Sunday morning lineup that stretched around the block. Most of the demand appeared to be coming from young people and their families, he added.

"There were a lot of people, it spread a lot on social media," he said.

Thériault said the clinic ran out of doses by 9 a.m. but had ordered 500 extra for both Sunday and Monday.

By 1:45 p.m., even those extra doses had all been distributed, the health authority said in an update. The clinic reopens for appointments on Monday with extra doses available, it added.

Meanwhile, the number of new COVID-19 cases in Quebec dipped below the 500 mark for the first time since September, with 477 new infections.

Hospitalizations dropped by three to 421, while the number of people in intensive care remained stable at 103.

Health Minister Christian Dubé announced last week that youth between the ages of 12 and 17 would be able to book appointments for COVID-19 vaccines as of May 25, but could get shots at certain walk-in or drive-thru clinics before then.

The province will begin a school vaccination program the weeks of June 7 and June 14, with the goal of finishing the delivery of first shots by June 23.

While initial demand from teens seemed strong, it appears to have slowed in the 18 to 44 age group.

As of Saturday, Dubé said that group was still falling short of meeting the province's target of having 75 per cent of its population making an appointment or receiving a first shot.

On Sunday, he reminded Quebecers to book their appointments and continue following all the health measures in place as the province moves towards putting its reopening plan into effect later this week.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 23, 2021

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said there were 477 new COVID-19 cases in Montreal. That number, in fact, applies to all of Quebec.

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