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Half of seniors have not received their COVID-19 booster dose, says Quebec minister

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Half of Quebec seniors have not received their most recent COVID-19 vaccine booster dose, Sonia Bélanger, the minister responsible for seniors, said on Tuesday.

She held a press scrum at the national assembly with Health Minister Christian Dubé to raise awareness about the difficult situation in emergency departments at the height of the respiratory virus season.

Dubé asked Quebecers to avoid emergency rooms wherever possible. At the same time, he urged people aged 70 and over to go get their COVID-19 booster dose.

The ministers revealed that 50 per cent of elderly people had not received a vaccine in the last six months.

"The virus is still there. I'm not trying to scare you, but please go and get your vaccine," said Dubé.

During the COVID-19 pandemic that hit Quebec hard in 2020-2021, it was clear early on that elderly people were particularly at risk of developing severe complications.

According to Bélanger, many of them have recently contracted the disease, which could explain why they are not picking up their booster dose.

"But if you haven't had COVID in the last six months, then you have to go and get your vaccination dose (...) because it's really important," the minister said.

She added that Quebec public health director Dr. Luc Boileau was preparing to make announcements on the topic in the near future.

"We are really looking at the situation," said Bélanger.

A vaccination campaign took place this fall in long-term care home (CHSLDs); it's continuing in private seniors' residences (RPAs) and through home support services.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Dec. 5, 2023. 

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