Quebecers 55 and up can get the AstraZeneca vaccine starting Thursday
MONTREAL -- People aged 55 and up will be able to get vaccinated in Quebec as of Thursday if they opt for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Public Health Minister Christian Dubé made the announcement on Tuesday while unveiling new restrictions across Quebec.
The lowered age limit -- 55 -- only applies to the AstraZeneca vaccine, not the other kinds. The others, made by Pfizer and Moderna, are still only available to older groups.
As of Friday, those 60 and up across most of Quebec will be able to book appointments for any kind of vaccine.
Right now, most of the province is capped at the minimum age of 65 for all vaccines. However, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Cote-Nord, Laval, Monteregie, Outaouais and Montreal are all accepting appointments for those 60 and up.
The province has promised to adjust its booking website so that people can pick AstraZeneca or avoid it if they want.
It has also created several walk-in sites in the Montreal area where people over 55 can get the AstraZeneca vaccine:
- 4988 Vézina St. (Aréna Bill-Durnan)
- 1001 Jean-Paul Riopelle Place (Palais de Congres)
- 4545 Pierre-de-Coubertin Ave. (Atrium du Stade Olympique)
- 821 Sainte Croix Ave. (Clinique de vaccination de Saint-Laurent)
- 12001 De Salaberry Blvd. (Centre civique de Dollard-des-Ormeaux)
- 707 75th Ave. (Centre sportif Dollard-St-Laurent)
- 1650 Cedar Ave. (Centre universitaire de santé McGill - Hôpital général de Montréal)
A full list of sites offering AstraZeneca across the province is available here.
Hundreds of pharmacies will also get the doses and will be able to administer them in coming days, Dubé tweeted on Wednesday.
ASTRAZENECA CURRENTLY BANNED FOR CANADIANS UNDER 55
It remains unclear when the vaccine will be available to anyone younger than 55.
In March, the province paused the use of the vaccine for those under that age "as a precautionary measure," while Canadian researchers investigate a possible link between the vaccine and various blood clotting issues for that age group.
On Tuesday, a senior official at Europe's medicines regulator said there is a clear "association" between AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine and very rare blood clots in the brain, though the direct cause of the clots is still unknown.
The European Medical Agency (EMA) said in a statement after the comments by Marco Cavaleri, chair of its vaccine evaluation team, that it was still conducting a review of the vaccine and expected to announce its findings on Wednesday or Thursday.
"In my opinion, we can now say it, it is clear that there is an association (of the brain blood clots) with the vaccine. However, we still do not know what causes this reaction," Cavaleri said, without giving evidence to support his comments.
Still, the EMA has said the benefits of the AstraZeneca shot outweigh any risks, and the World Health Organization has backed the vaccine. AstraZeneca has said previously that its studies have found no higher risk of clots because of its vaccine.
-- With files from Reuters