MONTREAL -- There will be no exemptions for religious reasons for health-care workers in Quebec mandated to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15.

Health Minister Christian Dube made the statement in a news conference Thursday that Quebec would not be following the federal government's exemption on religious reasons for public servants.

"It's a question of health not a question of religion," he said. "I don't understand the federal position. That's their choice. For us, there won't be an exception."

In total, the health ministry said 27,051 workers are not adequately vaccinated against COVID-19, and 15,607 have not received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Dube said about half of those who have received one dose are in direct contact with patients..

Dube also said over 1,000 nurses have been hired with almost 2,000 potential candidates still being interviewed.

"Reinforcements are coming," Dube said in a news conference Thursday. He saying there were 1,007 hired, and 1,900 in negotiations.

"I'm taking this as very good news," he said. "You can see in the eyes of the nurses that now they have help."

The goal is to hire 4,000 nurse to fill the shortage.

Quebec is offering bonuses of $12,000 to $18,000, for a total of up to $1 billion, to bring at least 4,000 nurses back into the public health network in the coming months.