COVID-19 vaccination blitz for students kicks off across some Quebec schools
36% of youths aged 12-17 have received a 1st dose of vaccine
A two-week vaccination blitz for youths aged 12 to 17 began across some Quebec schools on Monday in an effort to quickly administer first doses in hopes of securing a more normal return to school come August.
Some 530,000 children have already been able to book an appointment on the Clic Santé service, but some students will get the shots through their schools, in a campaign that will run between June 7 through 18.
Some elementary and high schools will transport students to vaccination centres, while others will have mobile vaccination clinics on site.
One mass vaccination site, ExpoCité in Quebec City, rolled out the red carpet for students for its grand opening on Monday. The site was transformed to resemble a movie premiere, equipped with paparazzi, a DJ, and — once vaccinated — a frozen treat.
"We want young people to have a good time coming here," said Patricia McKinnon, director of vaccination for the Quebec City health authority, the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale.
WATCH | Quebec vaccination clinic welcomes teens with photobooth, DJ and popsicles
According to government data released Monday, 36 per cent of the 12-to-17 age cohort have already received a first dose of the vaccine.
Health Minister Christian Dubé has said 75 per cent of children who fall into that age category, which makes up six per cent of the Quebec population, should be vaccinated with a first dose by June 23, in time for the end of classes.
The province is aiming to have a second dose available to teens around the time they return to school in late August.
Meanwhile, on Monday, 30 students from F.A.C.E. Elementary & High School in downtown Montreal walked over to the Palais des Congrès to receive their first doses.
For Secondary 4 student Nika Khan-Lau, being among classmates helped ease the stress of receiving the jab.
"I was nervous at first, but I'm always nervous for vaccines, so it wasn't that bad," she said. "I was with my friends too, so it was easier to do it than if I was alone, and I would be overthinking more," she said.
Vice-principal Jennifer Harriet said today's event was a cause for celebration and bodes well for the upcoming year.
"We're really looking forward to having our students back next year under more regular conditions," she said.
Each school is working with regional public health officials to develop its own vaccination approach.
But students who attend schools where large numbers of students are already partially immunized will have to make their own vaccination arrangements.
According to Montreal's West Island health authority, nearly 9,000 youths aged 12 to 17 have already been given a first dose at pop-up clinics, drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinics or mass vaccination sites in the region.
The CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal says vaccination centres have also been adapted for the students, with activities like pet therapy and musical entertainment.
Vaccin-O-Bus drives up vaccines in youth
In an attempt to target youths aged 16 to 30, the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale's Vaccin-O-Bus took to the streets on Monday to offer a COVID-19 shot to those who want one. The mobile vaccine clinic, available for walk-ins, will have the capacity to vaccinate 130 people every day.
The bus clinic has also partnered with schools in the region and has a date reserved for each participating school. According to director of vaccination McKinnon, 77 per cent of 12- to 17-year-olds in the Quebec City region have already made an appointment or received a first dose of vaccine.
The Vaccin-O-Bus is also administering second doses to people who have had the Pfizer shot eight weeks prior to showing up, no appointment required.
"Our goal is to bring the vaccine to the people who want it," McKinnon said.
With files from Matt D'Amours, Radio-Canada