MONTREAL -- Health officials are sounding the alarm on the current rise of COVID-19 variants in Quebec, especially in Montreal, as the provincial government announced plans to expand vaccinations to local pharmacies later this month.

Health Minister Christian Dube said at a news conference Tuesday that while the second wave curve is trending downward, the curve of variants first found in the U.K. is “rising rapidly.”

“We are afraid, and we are afraid that the Montreal region is the calm before the storm,” Dube said. “And if next week it goes up more, it could become very dangerous. I believe that we are in that situation as we speak.”

According to data from the province, 12 to 15 per cent of new cases are the U.K. variants. 

The government also announced it has inked a deal with more than 350 pharmacies on the island of Montreal to allow vaccinations to begin on March 15 by appointment only. He asked the public not to contact pharmacies about appointments until that date. 

The announcement comes as people aged 70 and up are now eligible to get vaccinated in Montreal. After some initial confusion, health authorities have clarified that an accompanying person can receive a shot at the same time.

Accompanying people must be at least 70 years old to qualify. They also need to spend at least three days per week with the priority group member.

This only applies to regions where the minimum age is 70. Elsewhere in the province, where the age is upwards of 80, the accompanying person must be at least 70.

Vaccinations can be scheduled online at, or by calling 514 644-4545.

Accompanying people will need to be registered along with the priority group member at the time of booking.

“We assure you that, regardless of the time selected for the appointment of your companion, they will be able to be vaccinated at the same time as you,” read a statement on the Clic Sante website.

Vaccinations are being administered free of charge. The province has asked people to bring their health card to their appointment, but if you don’t have one, you can still get a shot.

According to public health officials, the city has the capability to administer several thousand doses per day.

A map of the announced vaccination sites in Montreal can be found here.

REGIONAL BREAKDOWN: what's the minimum age where I live?

  • Abitibi-Témiscamingue: 80 years and over
  • Bas-Saint-Laurent: 80 years and over
  • Capitale-Nationale: 80 years and over
  • Chaudière-Appalaches: 85 years and over
  • North Coast: 70 years and over
  • Eastern Townships: 85 years and over
  • Gaspesie: 85 years and over
  • Lanaudiere: 85 years and over
  • Laurentians: 85 years and over
  • Laval: 70 years and over
  • Mauricie and Centre-du-Quebec: 85 years and over
  • Monteregie: 85 years and over
  • Montreal: 70 years and over
  • Northern Quebec: 85 years and over
  • Outaouais: 85 years and over
  • Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean: 85 years and over

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