Quebecers 55 and over jump at chance to get AstraZeneca vaccine without appointment

Quebecers 55 and over are now eligible to get the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine at walk-in clinics across the province — and so far, they are proving popular.

'As soon as I knew it was possible for me this morning, I jumped in,' said one Montreal man

A line formed this morning outside Montreal's Olympic Stadium, one of the sites where those 55 and over could receive a dose of AstraZeneca. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Quebecers 55 and over are now eligible to get the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine at walk-in clinics across the province — and so far, the sites are proving popular.

In Quebec City, where cases of COVID-19 are soaring, cars were lined up early to get a coupon to get an appointment later in the day or the coming days.

In Lévis, the clinic was booked by 9 a.m. and, in Montreal, many were also eager to get the shot.

"The sooner the better," said François Longpré, who arrived at 7:30 a.m. at the Palais des Congrès.

"For me, it was very important to get the vaccine. As soon as I knew it was possible for me this morning, I jumped in."

Currently, the vaccine is only available to people between age 55 and 79, after the Quebec government suspended its use in younger people over concerns about rare but serious blood clots.

Robert Michaud said he considered those reports before making his decision. But he said any potential risk from the vaccine is far smaller than the potential danger of COVID-19, echoing comments from experts. 

"Because I'm looking at what's happening everywhere — Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and in my own home town, Quebec City — and it's scary."

François Longpré jumped at the chance to get vaccinated at one of Montreal's walk-in clinics. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Montreal health officials said they hoped large numbers of people would take advantage of the chance to get the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Jean-Nicolas Aubé, a spokesperson for Montreal Public Health, said there are still doses available and they plan to adapt to meet demand.

"If people come, they'll get a coupon and they'll be vaccinated."

WATCH | Montrealers explain why they lined up to get the shot:

Quebecers across the province line up to get AstraZeneca shot

1 year ago
Duration 1:19
On Thursday people aged 55 and up were allowed to get inoculated with the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine without an appointment at large vaccination sites.

Along with Palais des Congrès, the walk-in locations in Montreal include the Olympic Stadium, the Montreal General Hospital and Bill Durnan Arena. 

Dr. Mylène Drouin, the city's public health director, said Wednesday that polling among the age group eligible for the vaccine suggested more than 40 per cent would be willing to get it.

Quebec has lowered the eligible age to 60 across the province for those who wish to book vaccine appointments through the province's web portal or by phone. 

The government is also expanding vaccine access to Montrealers who are essential workers or living with chronic illnesses.

With files from Kate McKenna and The Canadian Press

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