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Quebec health officials optimistic about new school year as booster eligibility expands


Quebec health officials say parents concerned about COVID-19 should have peace of mind when sending their kids to school in the fall.

"The global situation is different from what it was a year ago or even a few months ago," said Public Health Director Dr. Luc Boileau at a Wednesday press conference.

Although a spike in infections is expected to occur in the coming months, most school-age children have some level of immunity against the virus, he explained.

Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, pediatrician and chair of Quebec's immunization committee (CIQ), notes that many children have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have contracted the virus, lowering infection risks.  


All Quebecers over six months of age are eligible for a COVID-19 shot.

Youths aged 12 to 17 who have received two doses can now receive a booster dose, and the booster will be available for five to 11-year-olds by the middle of next week.

Currently, 67 per cent of children ages five to 11 have received at least one dose, according to Santé Québec.

Meanwhile, it claims 100 per cent of youth ages 12 to 17 have been vaccinated.

Health officials are also banking on the new "bivalent" vaccine.

"We know that there is a new vaccine, bivalent, that should be available in less than two weeks," said Boileau.


There are no plans to reinstate masking rules in schools, Boileau confirmed.

"We are not there yet in terms of the level of contagion," he said.

The belief is that measures currently on the table, most notably vaccinations, are sufficient in managing infection rates.

In addition, parents are asked to test their children for COVID-19 whenever they display symptoms. Rapid tests will be made available through schools.

If a child begins to show symptoms at school, they will be tested there. If the result is negative, they're permitted to stay in class, but parents are asked to test them again the following day.

If a child tests positive, they may return to school after five days but will be asked to wear a mask for an additional five days.

Surface cleaning and disinfection rules will be maintained, especially concerning areas like water fountains.

Schools should also take advantage of the warm weather and keep the windows open as often as possible, noted Dr. Marie-France Raynault, senior strategic medical advisor for the Health Ministry's public health branch.


Quach-Thanh says it's not entirely clear how big a role schools play when it comes to COVID-19 transmission.

"Most of the time, it was not school; it was actually household transmission because you're much more likely to spend time within your household," she said. "School is a possibility, like everywhere else [...] but I think nowadays, with Omicron, you can't really tell where it's coming from."

The school setting is nevertheless a useful indicator of the infection rate, Dr. Raynault added.

She says the province will carefully monitor infection rates as the school year begins.


Twenty-six more people have died due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours; for a total of 16,278.

Hospitalizations increased by 27 in the last 24 hours, for a total of 1,986 people needing treatment, including 666 specifically for COVID-19.

Intensive care admissions are down by five, including 25 due to COVID-19, for a total of 41.

On Aug. 22, a total of 12,914 samples were analyzed.

Quebec added 992 PCR COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of people infected to 1,172,597.

A total of 280,326 rapid tests have been declared with 234,738 positive.

Tuesday, 207 were reported, with 171 positive.

Quebec is encouraging people to declare the status of their at-home rapid test so officials can get a clearer picture of infection levels in the province.

There are 3,983 health care workers absent due to COVID-19-related reasons.


Quebec's health care professionals administered 23,131 more vaccinations for a total of 20,610,926 doses.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé points out vaccination against the virus does not completely prevent infection, but it does decrease the risk of dire consequences.

As of Aug. 22, 91 per cent of the eligible population aged five and up have received their first dose of a vaccine and 56 per cent have received three.

An additional 20 per cent have received four.

The government has not included data for children aged six months to four years old. Top Stories

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