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December 28, 2021 – Provincial government update on COVID-19

Here is an update on recent decisions and actions by the provincial government regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Calendar for third doses of vaccine

Christian Dubé, Minister of Health and Social Services, Horacio Arruda, National Director of Public Health in Québec, and Daniel Paré, Director of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Québec, have unveiled the full calendar for administration of the third dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

As of December 29, essential workers in the following categories will be able to book their booster-shot appointments online via the Clic Santé platform:

  • All school personnel (preschool, primary and secondary school, vocational training as well as post-secondary education);
  • All public security staff including police officers, firefighters, personnel in emergency call centres, as well as correctional services and civil security workers;
  • Staff in community organizations in the health and social service sectors;
  • Some employees in the agriculture, fisheries and food sectors (food inspectors and slaughterhouse workers);
  • Private-sector healthcare workers;
  • Other workers in the health sector (in social-economy enterprises providing home care services, palliative care, etc.).

Beginning on January 4, 2022, bookings for booster shots will be opened up gradually and by age group:

  • January 4: ages 55 to 59
  • January 6: ages 50 to 54
  • January 10: ages 45 to 49
  • January 12: ages 40 to 44
  • January 17: ages 35 to 39
  • January 17: ages 30 to 34
  • January 19: ages 25 to 29
  • January 21: age 18 and up

Quebecers aged 60 to 64 have been able to book appointments since December 27. A number of other client groups are also already eligible. Note that daycare staff are among these priority client groups.

The government hopes to administer two to three vaccine doses per month and reach the entire population by March 2022.

On December 27, some 270,000 vaccine appointments were booked in Québec.

The government also announced that 58% of children aged 5 to 11 had received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Message for the unvaccinated

“I have a message for unvaccinated people and their loved ones,” Mr. Dubé said. “You make up the majority of cases in intensive care right now. With the statistics and with Omicron surging, in the coming months, either you will go get vaccinated, or you are going to get sick. And getting sick when you are not vaccinated will needlessly put pressure on the health system.”

New directives for health workers

Mr. Dubé also announced that given the current context, and subject to a number of conditions, a reduced isolation period would be authorized for certain workers in healthcare settings who have tested positive for COVID-19. The isolation period will consider the type of exposure, lab test results and workers’ vaccine status.

“If we had the choice, we wouldn’t do it, but in the health networks there are protective measures and infection control mechanisms that weren’t in place during the first wave,” Dubé said. “Health workers are 98% vaccinated. We know these people are vaccinated and are far less contagious. It’s a question of risk management.”

As of December 27, there were 7,000 healthcare personnel absent from work, with that number expected to reach 10,000 in the coming days.

The Government of Québec is also considering reducing the isolation period to five days from 10 for people who test positive and are asymptomatic, similar to what was announced yesterday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Epidemiological situation in Québec

Québec reported 12,833 new cases of COVID-19 on December 28 and 15 more deaths from the disease.

Hospitalizations were up by 146 compared with the previous day. A total of 702 people are in hospital for COVID-19-related illness, including 115 in intensive care.

“We are at more than one intensive-care case for every 10 hospitalized cases,” Mr. Dubé said.

To view the list of public-health measures in effect in Québec as of December 26, 2021, go here.