Montrealers 65 and over can now book a vaccine, as pharmacies prepare to help
Province sets new daily record for inoculations on Thursday, with thousands more appointments available
Quebec is now allowing Montreal residents who are 65 and older to book an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine, as pharmacies prepare to help out as well in the coming weeks.
The city has become the first region in the province to extend inoculations to that age bracket.
Quebec's Health Ministry announced Friday that thousands of appointments are available for the coming days and, starting next week, roughly 350 pharmacies will also begin taking appointments.
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Health Minister Christian Dubé sounded an optimistic tone about the state of the vaccination campaign.
Marjaurie Côté-Boileau said 75 per cent of Montrealers aged 70 and over have either been given a dose of vaccine or have an appointment.
Quebec set a new record Thursday with 29,000 doses given, she said.
For now, pharmacies will use the Moderna vaccine, while Pfizer-BioNTech will continue to be administered at mass vaccination sites. The AstraZeneca-Oxford will be used for home visits.
Each of the 356 pharmacies in Montreal taking part will receive 100 doses to start and begin taking appointments Monday for the following week through the government's online portal.
That number will increase over the next few weeks, with a goal of administering 140,000 doses per week for the entire network, said Pierre-Marc Gervais, a senior director for Quebec's pharmacy association.
Daron Basmadjian, a manager at a pharmacy near the Montreal General Hospital, said pharmacists already have experience in administering vaccines and are anxious to help.
"When's the last time you saved 100 lives in a single day? That's the goal. That's what we are trying to do here so we are very, very excited," he said.
"Many pharmacies vaccinated for the flu season this past winter and obviously many pharmacies have been vaccinating for years."
Dr. Richard Massé, a senior public health official assisting with the vaccine rollout, said Quebec now expects seven million doses of vaccine by the end of June.
Massé was part of a news conference Friday detailing plans to allow more sports later this month.
He said the growing number of older people being vaccinated has allowed the province to loosen restrictions, even though Montreal has recorded a growing number of more dangerous variants of the coronavirus.
Premier François Legault has said that once those over 65 are vaccinated, more health restrictions could be relaxed, including the ban on indoor private gatherings.
Quebec has administered more than 619,000 vaccine doses so far, which works out to just over seven per cent of the population.
On Wednesday, the province opened vaccination appointments for those 70 and older for the entire province.
with files from Sarah Leavitt and The Canadian Press