MONTREAL — Quebec is shortening wait times for second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines from 16 to eight weeks and allowing certain age groups to begin rescheduling their next shot beginning June 7.
“It is important that the offer to advance the second dose of vaccine be made according to the prioritization schedule established by age group, as older people are at greater risk of developing complications from COVID-19,” the ministry said in a news release Thursday.
For people who are immunocompromised or on dialysis, the recommended interval in between doses is four weeks.
The province also rolled out its timeline for when people can start rebooking second doses. Those 80 and older can begin rescheduling their second dose on Monday. Younger populations will be able to book their second shots on specific dates on a gradual basis.
Here is the timeline for re-scheduling second doses:
Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé announced more details on the province’s vaccination campaign at a news conference, joined by vaccination campaign director Daniel Paré, as well as Quebec’s public health director, Dr.Horacio Arruda.
As of Thursday, the province has reached its target of administering a first dose of the vaccine to 75 per cent of adults, which is three weeks ahead of schedule.
The number of new COVID-19 cases in the province has steadied recently, with daily infections below 300 in Quebec for four days in a row.
Quebec has administered a total of 5,808,464 first and second doses since the start of the vaccination campaign.
To date, 62 per cent of the population 12 and older has received their first dose and almost half a million people have received their second dose.
New data from the Institut national de santé publique (INSPQ) shows that Montreal and Laval, two of the cities in Quebec most affected by COVID-19 infections, have some of the lowest vaccination rates in the province.
The INSPQ reports about 70 per cent of Quebecers aged 12 and over have so far received at least one dose of the vaccine. This number is only 67.5 per cent in Montreal and 67.3 per cent in Laval.
Public health states the rate is higher in more affluent neighbourhoods than in communities with lower household incomes. In Montreal North, one of the most disadvantaged areas, the vaccination rate is only 43.8 per cent.
Thursday morning, Quebec Premier François Legault insisted a targeted campaign in struggling communities will help boost vaccination rates.
“I hope we get to the 75 per cent target and I understand that we have to do some education in some areas,” he said. “Some people are scared, with no reason, about the vaccine. So, we have to explain to them why they need to be vaccinated and we will do so.”
Legault stated the government plans to distribute more information in as many languages as possible, adding he wants to find an incentive to help those hesitant to get inoculated.
— with files from The Canadian Press and CTV Montreal’s Amy Luft
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