COVID-19 vaccine passports coming to Quebec on Sept. 1 to limit fourth wave damage
MONTREAL -- A vaccination passport will be introduced in Quebec on Sept. 1, Quebec's health minister revealed on Tuesday.
"To avoid another lockdown we will use a vaccination passport," said Christian Dubé, who was joined by public health strategic medical advisor Dr. Yves Jalbert and strategic advisor to the province's COVID-19 vaccination campaign, Caroline Roy, at the briefing in Montreal.
Dubé said the vaccination passports will be used to give access to vaccinated people to public events, training facilities, bars and restaurants.
Retail stores will not require a vaccine passport.
"Our objective is that the vaccination passport will allow those people who are adequately vaccinated, to have access - and I want you to listen to these words - to have access to public events where there's a lot of people and those activities that we call high contact rate, high socialization rates so for those activities and services that are non essential - please listen to this - to be protected," said Dubé. "For the time being, the vaccination passport will not be applicable to retail stores."
The app, Dubé said, will not gather any data.
"It's only a reading application, that's it," he said.
The vaccine passport, the health minister said, is to avoid lockdowns and hospitalization spikes seen in fall 2020.
"Our objective with the vaccination passport is to not go back to a generalized lock down, and at the same time we wish to avoid overcrowding our hospitals," he said.
The passport will be installed on an app that is being tested this week, Dubé said. A paper version will also be available for those without a smartphone. Some 4.7 million Quebecers have already received their QR code, the health minister said.
A pilot project will be implemented this week at La Cage Brasserie sportive in Quebec City, the Econofitness in Laval and possibly other businesses.
Details on when and were businesses and citizens can get the app will be announced the week of Aug. 23.
Dubé said that weekly news conferences will return updating the province on the epidemiological situation in the province.
Quebec is reporting seven more people in hospital with COVID-19 Tuesday, the highest single-day rise in hospitalizations linked to the pandemic since mid-May.
Health officials say 62 people are in hospital with the disease and 18 are in intensive care.
Officials are also reporting 234 new COVID-19 infections but no more deaths linked to the novel coronavirus.
They say 40,691 doses of vaccine were administered in the past 24 hours, and the province's public health institute says 84.8 per cent of residents 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine and 72.2 per cent are considered adequately vaccinated.
Dubé said 400,000 people must get their second dose to reach a 75 per cent second vaccination rate.
Dubé said there will be no mandatory vaccination requirement for restaurant staff, but they will need to wear masks and follow other health guidelines.
He also would not confirm whether health-care or education workers would be required to get a vaccine.
"Over the upcoming weeks, we'll have a decision to make, together with public health, on the vaccination of health-care sector employees," the health minister said, adding that the vaccination rate for health-care workers is 90 per cent.
According for a mandatory vaccination order for health-care workers, the government would have to prove that it is both "necessary and reasonable."
If there is an "adjustment" to be made due to rising Delta variant cases, Dubé added, "we'll do it quickly."
With around 1.1 million more second doses administered, Quebec's rate will be around 84 per cent.
"If we reach that objective, we will be among the most vaccinated population in the world," said Dubé.
Dubé said that Minister of Education Jean-Francois Roberge and Isabelle Charest will give more information on the province's back-to-school plan on Wednesday at 11:15 a.m.