Visibly emotional after being inoculated against COVID-19, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said Thursday he felt "very, very good" about receiving the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.
"I can understand why people leave here with a smile," said Dubé, 64, describing the feeling of joy he is experiencing after a year of living in uncertainty with the coronavirus spreading in the community.
He said he got the vaccine publicly at the Palais des congrès de Montréal to set an example for others and to prove that he has no doubts about AstraZeneca-Oxford despite some of the bad press it has received recently.
Though there have been some concerns raised in Europe about the vaccine, health officials throughout Quebec and across Canada say there is no scientific evidence proving that AstraZeneca poses a risk.
Even though Dubé has had the shot, he still has to follow public health measures.
"I am told to be very careful for the next three weeks. I must wear my mask," Dubé said, noting it can take up to four weeks for the vaccine to be effective.
The minister is due to receive his second and last dose on July 8.
Premier François Legault took to Twitter after Dubé's shot to joke: "They tell me, Christian, that you weren't even afraid."
Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec's director of public health, has been urging Quebecers not to refuse the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.
On me dit Christian que tu n'as même pas eu peur ;-) <a href="https://t.co/zdeSZXbBft">https://t.co/zdeSZXbBft</a>—@francoislegault
The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine has been the subject of questions and concern in recent weeks.
Nearly a dozen countries — including Germany, France and Italy — suspended use of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine after reports some people who got a dose developed blood clots, even though there's no evidence that the shot was responsible.
There have been 37 reports of blood clots out of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the 27-country EU and Britain.
On Thursday, Germany, France and other European nations announced plans to resume using the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine after European Union and British regulators moved to shore up confidence in the shot, saying its benefits outweigh the risks.
That falls in line with what Arruda said earlier this week.
"The risk of dying from COVID-19 is greater than the risk of the vaccine," said Arruda.
He said there is no proof of causal relation between the vaccine and blood clots and, he said, people cannot shop around to receive the brand of vaccine they want.
"The good vaccine is the one that is offered to you," Arruda said.
Dubé estimated that between 30,000 and 35,000 doses will have been administered on Thursday, which is much more than the 26,225 doses given on Wednesday. However, he said he hopes to see the campaign ramp up in April and May.
As of Thursday morning, health authorities reported that 832,469 doses had been administered so far, most of them to people aged 80 and over.
The goal is to ensure everybody in Quebec who wants a vaccine will get one by June 24.