Quebec’s long-term care residents, health-care workers to receive COVID vaccine first

Residents of long-term care homes and health-care workers will be the first to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in Quebec.

People living in private seniors’ residences and those in isolated communities, including Indigenous communities, will be next, provincial public health officials revealed during a technical briefing Monday.

Those four groups represent about 547,000 people living in Quebec.

The strategy aims to directly protect the most vulnerable members of the population, instead of betting that they will be indirectly protected if those around them are immunized, officials said.

The next groups of people to receive the vaccine will be organized by age group, starting with those 80 and up, then 70 to 79, and 60 to 69, followed by those who are 60 and under with risk factors.

Earlier Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that up to 249,000 doses of the two-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be available in Canada this month.

Trudeau said the first shots should arrive next week, if Health Canada gives the product the green light. Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, has said her department could approve the Pfizer product as soon as this week.

Each province and territory will receive vaccine doses in numbers proportionate to their share of the population.

Trudeau said these doses will be delivered by the company directly to 14 distribution centres across the country that are equipped with the cold storage needed to store the vaccine, which must be stored at –80 C.

Quebec, along with Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta, has been experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases of late.

A Quebec Health Ministry spokesperson said the surge in the province can be explained by an increase in community transmission as well as outbreaks in schools, workplaces and in some long-term care homes.

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