Quebec to lower age eligibility for AstraZeneca vaccine; Arruda receives first Moderna shot
MONTREAL -- Quebec will soon lower the age eligibility for the AstraZeneca vaccine, but public health director Horacio Arruda wouldn’t say what the age limit will be.
Arruda, minutes after receiving his first dose of the Moderna vaccine, said the province is waiting for the green light to lower the age limit from the committee of immunization of Quebec (CIQ), which is meeting Monday.
"Today, they are going to give us a recommendation," he told reporters.
"It's clear that it seems, from what we suspect, that there's going to be a lowering of the age like other provinces, but will it be 50, 45, 40? I cannot tell you before I receive the advice."
Quebec's public health institute, which includes the immunization committee, said in a statement that it will issue an official opinion that will be made public "in the coming days."
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On Sunday, Ontario announced its plans to lower eligibility for the AstraZeneca vaccine to 40 and older, as did the provinces of Alberta and Manitoba on Monday. In Quebec, it is still limited to those 55 and older.
Arruda received the Moderna vaccine at a pharmacy in Saint-Eustache Monday, and urged Quebecers to do the same.
"Let’s go, let’s go," Arruda said through his face mask after a pharmacist gave him a shot of Moderna just after 10 a.m.
"Protect yourself, protect others. Go get vaccinated."
The government was criticized on social media, however, after announcing trucks with loudspeakers would drive around certain Montreal neighbourhoods urging them to get vaccinated, even though the message would have been heard by many who are still not eligible to get a first dose.
On Monday, Arruda said the province wanted to vaccinate people based on who would likely be hospitalized with the virus first.
He told reporters that in May, the province is aiming to give doses to 100,000 people every day. The current average is 64,213 per day, with a total of 449,488 last week.
In recent days, there have been reports that providers are left with unused vaccine doses at the end of the day since younger age groups are still not eligible. Arruda said the province will stick with its current roll-out plan, but will re-assess and provide an update "as soon as possible."
"Those doses are not lost," he said.
"That's why I'm asking people to go and take an appointment for this, and if needed, we'll see if there's going to be some groups we're going to be inviting at the end of the day for that. This is going to be discussed with the operational people."
Quebec received nearly 19,000 doses of the AstraZeneva vaccine last week that are being distributed to the health-care network. More than 230,000 Pfizer doses are also expected this week.
On Sunday, only 40,433 Quebecers rolled up their sleeves for a shot.