Western Quebec schools join youth vaccination blitz

Schools in western Quebec have joined the province's two-week vaccination drive for youth ages 12-17. 

Province aiming to get 1st doses into 75% of 12-17-year-olds by June 23

A student receives a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic hosted in a high school gym in the Montreal area earlier this week. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Schools in western Quebec have joined the province's two-week vaccination drive for youth ages 12-17. 

The provincewide campaign began Monday and is set to run until June 18. Some 530,000 children have already booked appointments through the province's booking system, but the drive is intended to bolster that number.

Some schools are hosting mobile vaccination clinics, while others are shuttling students to central locations. In Gatineau, one vaccination centre is welcoming students from 15 different schools.

On Wednesday, the region's health authority said the Outaouais is lagging behind the rest of Quebec with a vaccination rate of 63.2 per cent. The provincial rate currently sits at about 70 per cent.

Dr. Brigitte Pinard, interim public health director with the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO), said the youth drive should help boost that number.

"Right now access [to vaccines] is very good in Outaouais. Everyone who is 12 and above can get their first dose, so hopefully, if people take their appointments this week, we will be able to catch up to the provincial average as soon as possible," she said.

Students check in at a mass vaccination centre in Quebec City earlier this week. (Pierre Alexandre Bolduc/Radio-Canada)

Aiming for 75% by June 23

According to figures released Monday, 36 per cent of the province's 12-17-year-olds had received a first dose of a vaccine.

Health Minister Christian Dubé has said 75 per cent of children who fall into that age category, which accounts for six per cent of the province's 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.

Students who are 12 or 13 require consent forms signed by their parents or guardians. All students require their provincial health cards in order to be vaccinated.

Children who are learning online can book an appointment through the provincial system. 

With files from Radio-Canada