Quebec is expanding its COVID-19 vaccination rollout to include essential workers and adults with chronic illnesses in Montreal as new public health restrictions come into effect in the region.
Essential workers — including teachers in elementary and high schools, first responders and temporary foreign workers — who work on the island will be able to book their first appointment starting Friday. They must provide proof of employment.
Health Minister Christian Dubé provided the long-awaited details of the next phase of the campaign Wednesday morning as the province faces the third wave of the pandemic.
“We are adjusting with what’s happening on the ground,” Dubé said.
Under the plan, some Montrealers who suffer from a chronic illness — which includes patients currently undergoing treatment for cancer or being followed in hospital for dialysis — will also be able to get their first shot of the vaccine starting next week.
Unlike other Quebecers, they will be vaccinated by their doctor or in hospital.
“These people should not go to mass vaccination sites,” Dubé said.
The two new priority groups represent about 300,000 people in Montreal, according to Dubé.
The government is also dropping the minimum age requirement. As of Thursday, vaccination appointments will also be open to all Quebecers who are 60 and older.
Anyone who is 55 and over will be to get their first shot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at a number of walk-in clinics across the province. A full list of those clinics is available on the government’s website. They will open as of 8 a.m. Thursday.
Dubé says that Quebec remains on track to administer a first dose of the vaccine to any adult who wants one by June 24.
The next phase comes as the province tightens public health measures in Montreal, less than two weeks after the government eased restrictions in the area.
Premier François Legault has ordered gyms closed and limited capacity at places of worship to 25 people. Beginning next Monday, students in grades 9, 10 and 11 will attend school on alternate days in red zones, and extracurricular activities are cancelled.
Officials described the decision as preventive and as a way to curb the spread of novel coronavirus in the city.
— with files from The Canadian Press
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.