Seniors getting COVID-19 vaccine at Big O will have free parking after all
Questions about vaccines' accessibility still linger
Seniors looking to get vaccinated against COVID-19 will not have to worry about paying for parking, after all.
Starting next Monday, the province will broaden its vaccination campaign to include the general population. The first priority group will be people born in 1936 and before, meaning seniors who are at least close to turning 85.
Earlier this morning, the person in charge of the vaccination campaign for Montreal's east end said seniors would need to pay a reduced parking fee at the Olympic Stadium's vaccination clinic of $6 instead of $20.
"It's about the same as a round trip in public transportation, so the costs were adjusted to better welcome all of the people who will come by car," said Caroline Saint-Denis during an interview with Radio-Canada's Tout un Matin.
Saint-Denis's statement appeared to catch Health Minister Christian Dubé off guard. He was also interviewed on the French-language radio program.
Dubé said he was expecting the parking fees at the Olympic stadium to be similar to the ones at hospitals, with the first two hours being free, and the daily rate being capped at $10.
The minister's spokesperson has since issued a statement, guaranteeing that parking at the Big O, or any other vaccination site, will be free.
"The general premise is for it to be free, and for there to be no barriers to access the vaccination sites," the spokesperson's statement read.
Despite the correction, questions regarding the vaccines' accessibility began mounting shortly after the Legault government's news conference at the Big O on Tuesday.
Although appointments for the shot can be taken by phone at 1-877-644-4545, the government is strongly encouraging people to reserve their spot through an online portal at quebec.ca/covidvaccine.
People in the province's priority groups are also likely to have mobility issues.
Health Minister Christian Dubé acknowledged that challenge, saying it was possible to bring vaccine doses to hospitals, private seniors' residences, and long-term care homes — where dozens of people could get the shots in the same location — but the same cannot be done in people's homes.
The minister said the province will work closely with regional health boards and community organizations to make sure eligible seniors aren't left behind.
"But the idea is they have to leave their homes to come get the vaccine, because unfortunately, we can't bring the vaccines to them, for the moment," Dubé said.