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Canada Allison Hanes: Credit where it's due on Quebec's vaccine rollout

03:30  08 april  2021
03:30  08 april  2021 Source:   montrealgazette.com

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Quebec ' s vaccine rollout began Monday at the Saint-Antoione residence in Quebec City and the Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Montreal. The first administered dose in the province comes as shipments arrived for the first part of the hotly anticipated rollout plan in two long-term care homes. They arrived in Montreal late Sunday. Under the plan, the Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Montreal is the other facility to receive the first vaccines in Quebec after it was approved last week by Health Canada.

It is also too early to say whether vaccine hesitancy might increase as a result of the decision to offer the under-30 s an alternative jab over fears of very rare blood clots. And it is not clear whether some of those who have had their first dose of the AstraZeneca jab will be deterred from having their second dose – though officials have made clear that they should still have it . On a visit to Cornwall yesterday, Boris Johnson vowed there would be no delay to the lockdown-easing plans and that he believed the vaccine rollout would continue on schedule.

a group of people standing in a room: A patient walks into a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Palais des congrès on Wednesday. To this point, Quebec has managed to vaccinate almost 20 per cent of its population. © Provided by The Gazette A patient walks into a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Palais des congrès on Wednesday. To this point, Quebec has managed to vaccinate almost 20 per cent of its population.

For the first time since I was 15 and itching to get my driver’s licence, I suddenly wish I was older.

Or maybe I should have chosen a different career, like teacher or prison guard.

But if only I was 55 (instead of 39 and holding) I could go down to the Olympic Stadium Thursday starting at 8 a.m. to get vaccinated with AstraZeneca, no appointment necessary . The Big O is one of seven sites in Montreal that will be offering the much-maligned, but nevertheless safe-and-effective AstraZeneca vaccine to a younger age cohort.

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Due to technical difficulties, comments are unavailable. We’re working to fix the issue as soon as possible. If you have a critical piece of feedback for us, you can always reach the newsroom via the Reader Center . The C.D.C. is now reporting people fully vaccinated by county of residence. This data is not available for all states, and is incomplete in others, artificially lowering the published vaccination rates for some counties. Tap on a county to see how much data is missing in each state.

She says the vaccination drive should be completed before travel bubbles are set up with other countries amid speculation about renewed travel to and from Singapore, South Korea and Japan. 'If the federal government' s looking at in opening up our borders to to other countries I think New Zealand is is a good first step, but I don't think we should be opening up to any other country until we have the vaccine rollout complete,' the premier told reporters on Wednesday.

This is one of several new measures the Quebec government announced Wednesday in the desperate race between immunizing the general public and a third wave of the pandemic fuelled by more contagious and severe variants.

School staff, early childcare educators, police officers, firefighters, prison guards, community service providers, temporary foreign workers who grow our food and slaughterhouse employees are among those eligible for the next round of inoculations. They can make appointments as of Friday, though they’ll need proof of employment to get their shot.

Those suffering from chronic illnesses, like kidney failure, will also be able to book a time in a hospital setting through their treating physician.

Unfortunately grocery store cashiers, bus drivers and truckers — some of the other unsung heroes of the pandemic — will have to wait a bit longer. As Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s national director of public health said Wednesday, they have to start somewhere. And they’re basing the essential criteria on where people are most at risk.

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It comes as experts say the rollout to under-50 s should also be halted amid fears of the unusual side-effects. A senior government jabs adviser suggested the vaccine rollout should be halted for younger people until regulators issue firm guidance on the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab' s safety. And Dr Maggie Wearmouth, a member of the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI), also suggested "slowing things down" entirely, until AZ is certain it ' s jab fully safe.

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But if you’re 55 and older, you can roll up your sleeve for AstraZeneca. The new initiative will allow this age group to jump the queue, so to speak, rather than wait weeks or months to get their shot as the third wave dawns. It is no doubt meant to offload the supply of AstraZeneca, which some Quebecers have been refusing over a rare complication involving blood clots . The company also messed up aspects of bringing it to market, generating even more bad publicity.

But everyone from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Premier François Legault to Montreal’s director of public health Mylène Drouin insists it is safe and effective. And it is particularly useful against the variant first reported in the U.K. spreading in Quebec . We need every weapon at our disposal to reduce the impact of the third wave.

I’d take AstraZeneca if I could get it. But I can’t.

And this brings up a new phenomenon that has arisen from living through a pandemic: vaccine envy. While delighted to see our grandparents and parents get immunized, we’re all wondering when our turn will come. I’m not going to lie: learning friends my age who live in the U.S. — or Aruba, for that matter — have got their shots spawns pangs of jealousy. Legault has promised all adult Quebecers who want to get vaccinated will get a first dose by the Fête nationale. But that’s an eternity in pandemic time.

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France will start manufacturing coronavirus vaccines on its territory on Wednesday, the country' s ministry of finance said, with the goal to produce 250 million doses by the end of the year. In Germany, BioNTech is setting up a giant production facility in Marburg that it says can produce up to a billion doses this year alone. Can homegrown production really turn the tables in the EU' s bid to immunise 70% of its adult population by the summer? Euronews takes a looks at the bloc' s production capabilities and the challenges ahead. Where are Europe' s vaccine production facilities?

Comparing Canada’s vaccine rollout to such countries as the U.S. or Israel is sobering. The confidential details of federal procurement contracts and supply interruptions in January slowed the pace of delivery.

But when the doses finally arrived in February, Quebec was ready. There is much to criticize this government for in terms of its pandemic response, especially the constant yo-yoing of loosening and tightening restrictions. But it deserves credit for its agile, effective and creative vaccination campaign.

Quebec has managed to vaccinate almost 20 per cent of its population. In Montreal, it’s closer to a quarter. In fact, more than 75 per cent of Montrealers over the age of 60 have now received their first dose.

Montreal is so far ahead that 5,000 vaccine appointments went unfilled over the Easter weekend. Rather than lower the age eligibility in the city to those 55 and up, Dubé acknowledged that supply was diverted to regions that lag Montreal in inoculating people 60 and above. No doses went to waste.

Quebec was the first in the country to vaccinate its homeless population back in February.

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And now Quebec will be among the first to give teachers, school staff and daycare educators priority. Hallelujah for that! They’ve been risking their health for far too long caring for our kids. They deserve all the protection they can get with this government committed to keeping schools and daycares open.

On Thursday, Dubé will also announce a list of companies that have volunteered to administer vaccines to their employees and members of the public.

It’s not perfect, but Quebec is doing the best with what it has.

I’ll be hunkering down until my turn comes, hopefully by June 24.

ahanes@postmedia.com

Related

A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Monday, April 5, 2021 .
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 11:00 p.m. ET on Monday April 5, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 320,956 new vaccinations administered for a total of 6,554,489 doses given. Nationwide, 718,462 people or 1.9 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 17,294.496 per 100,000. There were 2,081,392 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 10,056,362 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 65.18 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I.

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