MONTREAL -- Quebecers who are highly immunocompromised or receiving kidney dialysis treatments will be able to get their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine earlier than initially planned.

The decision was confirmed Wednesday by the Ministry of Health and Social Services, following a recommendation by the Comité sur l'immunisation du Québec (CIQ) of the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ).

People meeting certain clinical criteria, such as those doing chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer or receiving dialysis, will be eligible to receive their second dose 28 days after the first instead of 16 weeks, or 112 days, later.

Some people who have had organ transplants, including heart, lung or kidney transplants, as well as those who have received stem cell transplants and people on high doses of corticosteroids or other high-intensity immunosuppressive treatments are covered under the new directive.

There is evidence that suggests the immune response in these people after the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is poor, making it important for them to get the second dose quickly.

People affected by this directive will not have to make an appointment for their vaccines.

The government says, whether or not they have received their first dose, they will be contacted directly by the health and social services institution in their region to either reschedule their second dose or set a date for their first dose.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2021.