The Quebec government has reached a deal with pharmacies across the province that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by March 22.
Health Minister Christian Dubé made the announcement earlier this month, saying that 350 pharmacies across Montreal will start taking appointments for vaccinations by March 15.
Citizens can make their appointments and see which pharmacies across the island are offering the vaccine through the Clic Santé website.
According to the Association québécoise des pharmaciens propriétaires (AQPP), about 38,000 Moderna vaccines will be sent to Montreal pharmacies in the first phase.
The Quebec website says citizens “cannot choose the vaccine you will be given.” Citizens will be told which vaccine it is upon receiving the first dose. The appointment for the second dose will be made after receiving the first dose and the website stresses “you cannot change your appointment for the second dose.”
Registration is open for Montrealers aged 70 and older and people who “do not meet the eligibility criteria will be turned away and asked to make a new appointment when they are eligible,” states Quebec.ca.
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During his press conference, Dubé says the government plans to focus on Montreal as it remains the epicentre of the pandemic in the province. “Vaccination is our weapon of massive risk reduction,” said Dubé. He cautioned Quebecers not to develop a “false sense of security” amid a recent drop of the case’s daily numbers, stressing that all the COVID-19 protocols mustn’t be ignored.
Dubé says that while the overall cases are dropping, the UK variant (B.1.1.7) of COVID-19 is increasing in Montreal.
COVID-19 vaccinations are open to Quebecers aged 85 and older in remote areas of the province while vaccines are open to 70 and up in Montreal. Dubé says Montreal is being prioritized because of the presence of the B.1.1.7 mutation.
“We’re afraid the Montreal region is the calm before the storm,” said Dubé.
Dubé concluded that mass vaccinations will be expanded into other Quebec regions “as soon as possible.”