Thursday, May 13, 2021
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Vaccines are ‘weapons of mass reduction’

Quebec pharmacies are set to participate in mass vaccination campaign

MATIAS BRUNET-KIRK

The provincial government updated Quebecers on the vaccination campaign on Tuesday, outlining their plan to use pharmacies as vaccination centers. Quebecers will therefore be able to get their COVID-19 shot at local pharmacies.

The program will be rolled out as of Mar. 15 in participating pharmacists in Montreal, said Minister of Health and Social Services Christian Dubé at a press conference on Tuesday.

This will be added to with a subsequent rollout of the program in over 1400 participating pharmacies across the province. “This is really good news,” said Minister Dubé.

Appointments will nonetheless be made through the government’s official website or over the phone, where people will be able to choose a location where to get the vaccine.

Pharmacies will still follow the same age group guidelines the government has outlined, making the program a complimentary service to the immunization efforts in mass vaccination centers.

Weapon of massive risk reduction

Minister Dubé said that “vaccination is our weapon of massive risk reduction,” pointing specifically to the current situation in Montreal where case numbers remain concerning. Vaccination efforts will therefore be concentrated to reduce the spread of the virus.

Dubé highlighted the importance of the campaign in the Greater Montreal area where he said “the epidemiological situation is interesting,” due to the growth in numbers of the B.1.1.7 strain, popularly known as the British variant

“12-15% of positive cases are of that variant,” said Dubé, adding that “if it keeps going up, next week could become very dangerous.”

“We are working under the assumption all over Quebec that these are all variants,” said National Director of Public Health Dr. Horacio Arruda.

Calm before the storm

The Health Minister said he was “weighing his words,” but felt “scared about the situation,” where Montreal could be “the calm before the storm.”

“It will lower our level of risk,” said Dubé about vaccination, but cautiously added that “we still have a long way to go to control the contagion.”

The plateau in cases many are seeing at the moment could be misleading, said the Ministry of Health, as the lowering curve of the old variant and the rising curve of the British variant, could be cancelling themselves out.

Lessons learnt

Vaccination efforts in Montreal continued to grow this week. Over 16,000 vaccines were administered throughout Greater Montreal on Monday, said Daniel Paré Director of the vaccination efforts, adding that many lessons had been learnt on how best to operate.

“We are really pleased that people accept to be vaccinated,” said Paré, but said measures were being taken to further increase vaccination capacity and options for booking appointments. Dubé added that more chairs would also be provided for the elderly people waiting in line.

Minister Dubé asked all those with an appointment to not arrive too early. I know you don’t want to miss it but you don’t have to worry your vaccine is reserved,” he said, adding that arriving 5 to 10 minutes before was sufficient.

He also stressed that to reduce the number of people waiting in line, no one should arrive without an appointment and that only one caregiver could accompany the person being vaccinated.

Different situations throughout the province

The Ministry also reminded Quebecers that vaccine rollout was different between regions due to the different conditions.

“Each region has a unique epidemiological situation,” said Dubé, adding that for example, the Montérégie region has more senior facilities that are of higher priority for vaccination. Therefore authorities have to slightly delay the rollout for other segments of the population.

As more vaccines become available and the capacity for appointments increases, the government will open up slots to larger portions of the population.

How to book an appointment

People who are 70 years or older can now book an appointment for a vaccine. Those who are caring for a loved one over the age of 85 years more than three times a week are also eligible.

Residents are only required to bring photo identification and proof of residence. The process will be paperless with little to no contact.

The government says the easiest way to book an appointment is through their website at Québec. ca/vaccinCOVID. If some have difficulties doing this, they can also book their appointment by calling 1 877 644-4545. The closest vaccination centre currently active for Parc-Extension residents is at the ParcExtension CLSC, located at 7085 Hutchison Street. Québec.ca/vaccinCOVID 1 (877) 644-4545.

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