Pharmacy vaccine bookings to begin in Quebec

Quebecers in the Montreal area should be able to book vaccine appointments at local pharmacies starting Monday as the province continues to expand its COVID-19 immunization campaign.

Health Minister Christian Dubé announced earlier this month that some 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments through the province’s vaccine booking portal Monday, with shots to begin March 22.

He said the program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses.

The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious COVID-19 variants, such as the B.1.1.7 variant that was first identified in the United Kingdom.

Read more: Canada expecting 1M Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses a week until early May

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The province has ramped up its vaccine effort in the last week, and administered more than 30,000 shots on both Friday and Saturday.

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As of Sunday evening, people age 70 and up are able to register for shots across the province, while in Montreal the target age drops to 65.

On Sunday, Dubé bragged on Twitter that Quebec had become the “leader” in Canada when it comes to delivering vaccines, due to the province’s early decision to delay giving a second dose.

“The courage … to delay the 2nd dose of vaccine has saved numerous lives,” he wrote in a tweet in which he also praised public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda.

Read more: Quebec reports 674 new COVID-19 cases, five deaths as vaccine ramp up continues

The province announced in January that it would delay the second of two doses of COVID-19 vaccines for up to 90 days, going against manufacturer recommendations and the early advice of Canada’s expert panel on the subject.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has since revised its recommendation to suggest provinces maximize the number of people getting a first dose by extending the interval for the followup shot for up to four months.

As of Sunday, the province had given 715,581 doses, and reported that 8.4 per cent of the population had been vaccinated. Only a small group of long-term care residents have received a second dose.


© 2021 The Canadian Press

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