Quebec youth between the age of 12 and 17 will be offered a first dose of COVID-19 by the end of June and will be fully vaccinated by the time they return to school in September, the province’s health minister said Thursday.
Christian Dubé said he’s waiting for formal guidelines from Quebec’s immunization committee before announcing details of the plan, but it will likely include vaccinating teens at their schools.
”We’re so pleased with this news because it’s good for the people that will be vaccinated, and good for the population in general,” he told reporters in Quebec City. “We’re back to school in September, and this is behind us.”
Daniel Paré, the head of the province’s vaccine effort, said teens would be vaccinated in a “hybrid” model that will likely include both schools and vaccination centres, depending on the region. He said parents would be given the opportunity to ask questions in the coming weeks once the plan is unveiled.
Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 12 and up on Wednesday.
Dubé said the province recently crossed the milestone of vaccinating at least 40 per cent of the population with at least one dose. He said that beginning May 13 Quebec would also begin offering electronic proof of vaccination for those who have received at least one dose.
The province is vaccinating members of the general public who are 40 and older, and another 200,000 appointments were made Wednesday.
Quebec is gradually lowering the age of vaccine eligibility and has promised to open appointments to all adults by the middle of May.
Quebec reported 907 new cases of COVID-19 and seven more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus on Thursday, including one in the previous 24 hours. Health officials said hospitalizations dropped by eight, to 580, and 144 people were in intensive care, a drop of eight.
Dubé said the situation in the province ”is going in the right direction,” with case counts, hospitalizations and test positivity rates all on the decline.
Montreal’s mayor said Thursday that she’s hoping to get permission from public health authorities to allow the city’s restaurants to reopen outdoor patios at the beginning of June.
Restaurant dining rooms in the city have been closed since last October, and Valerie Plante said business owners need a heads-up on when they might be able to reopen.
“Right now it’s been stable in Montreal, vaccination is going very well,” she said. “If it stays that way, it would be great to give an indication to restaurants and bars that they can open their (patios.)”
Dubé declined to provide an opening date, pointing out that Premier François Legault has promised to provide a step-by-step reopening plan in the coming weeks.
Legault said Thursday morning that the plan would be similar to the road map presented by the Saskatchewan government, which is based on vaccination rates, but Quebec’s could include other factors such as infection levels.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021.
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press