With the government set to make COVID-19 vaccine passports a reality September 1 – meaning Quebecers will have to show proof of vaccination to enter certain locations, public events, gyms, team sports and bars and restaurants – the government is bracing for a fourth wave that may have already hit the province.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Tuesday that in order to help curb the spread of the virus – and its highly contagious Delta variant -- the government will require all health-care workers to be vaccinated against the virus.
"We can't afford to keep some staff in contact with patients if they are not vaccinated," said Legault at a press conference in Quebec City Tuesday afternoon. "I understand that this isn't an easy decision to make, but we will make vaccinations mandatory for health-care workers only."
In addition, Legault announced that all CEGEP and university students in the province would be required to wear masks while seated in class, not just in common areas.
Since the vaccine passport was announced as a reality, many Quebecers have rallied against what they see as draconian government interference in their lives – saying the vaccine passport is akin to the yellow stars Jews were forced to wear during World War II by occupying Nazi forces. In fact, many of those same yellow stars could be seen being worn during a protest in Montreal Sunday afternoon, when thousands of anti-vaccine protesters gathered to express their displeasure with being forced to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
Yet another protest against the measure was held outside a gym in Laval Tuesday afternoon. An Econofitness gym there is part of a pilot project testing the vaccine passport, and a few dozen people gathered there to make public their displeasure with the project and being forced to get inoculated.
Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said Tuesday that too few young Quebecers have booked their appointments for a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to the numbers available, only 112,000 people have booked appointments to get their second doses in the next week — a number he says is too low.
"We have the capacity in terms of vaccines and availability (with or without appointments)," Dubé tweeted. "If we want to surpass our objectives, we have to go get the second dose."
He did say there have been “improvements” in the status of 18-to-34-year-olds, whose vaccination rates have lagged behind those of the rest of the province, despite those young people making up about half of all new cases, authorities said.
As of Wednesday morning, 85 percent of the eligible population in the province (age 12 and up) has received one dose of vaccine, and 74 percent have received two doses.
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase