Quebecers can get their 2nd COVID-19 shot sooner. Here's how it will work
75% of adults in the province have now received a first dose of vaccine
Quebecers over 18 will be able to move up their appointment for a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to as soon as eight weeks after the first, as the province aims to have everyone eligible to be fully vaccinated by the end of August.
Those 80 and over will be eligible to do so starting next Monday, June 7, through the online booking system Clic Santé.
Younger age groups will be able to do the same in the days and weeks that follow, based on their age at the time of their scheduled appointment.
Once the new appointment is made, the previous appointment will be automatically cancelled.
For now, the second appointment is limited to those who received Pfizer and can only be booked at the same location as the first.
In all, Health Minister Christian Dubé said he expects three million appointments to be changed.
Dubé also noted that more than 75 per cent of adults have now received a first dose of vaccine — three weeks ahead of the province's self-imposed June 24 deadline.
"This is huge," he said at a news conference, praising the vaccinators working long hours in clinics and pharmacies across the province.
Many Quebecers had been hoping to be able to move up their second appointment, given the quickening pace of vaccination and an influx of vaccines.
Nearly 550,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are slated to arrive every week in June. Dubé said again Thursday the goal is to give everyone two doses by Aug. 31.
Younger Quebecers urged to book their shot
Dubé encouraged those who haven't made a first appointment to do so in the coming days, before those eligible for a second dose begin moving up their dates.
The rate of vaccination is lagging among younger adults. Among those between the age of 30 and 39, 61 per cent of people have received a shot. Among those 18 to 29, only 51 per cent have received a shot.
Pockets in Montreal are also far below the provincial vaccination rate. In Montréal-Nord, one of the city's lowest-income boroughs, the vaccination rate is 43.8 per cent.
In neighbouring Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension and Saint-Leonard, fewer than half of the population is vaccinated.
Option for those who received AstraZeneca
Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province's public health director, repeated that those who received the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine will have the option of getting the same or a different vaccine for their second dose.
He said choosing another dose of AstraZeneca is advisable, given the strong protection it offers. Quebecers also have the option of receiving a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, which are mRNA vaccines.
Earlier this week, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) updated its guidance to provinces and territories, recommending that a first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine can be followed by either Moderna or Pfizer.
Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said that NACI deemed the "mounting" data on following AstraZeneca with an mRNA vaccine sufficient to update its guidance, and that Canadians need to look at "all the information in front of them" about the risks of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
With files from The Canadian Press