MONTREAL -- Despite some dire polls suggesting that vaccine coverage for Quebec children might be low, the first week showed encouraging numbers, with nearly 40 per cent already given their shot or booked for one.

That doesn't include many, many kids who will receive the shot at school this month.

"As of December 2, 9:15 a.m., 108,344 children aged five to 11 have received their first dose," wrote Marie-Louise Harvey of Quebec's health ministry in a statement Thursday.

That adds up to 17 per cent of the province's kids in that age group, one week after they became eligible for the vaccine last Wednesday.

A much bigger group, 143,180, have an appointment booked, Harvey said. 

Combined, that adds up to 38 per cent of Quebec kids in this age group.

NUMBERS TO GROW THROUGHOUT THE MONTH

In terms of tracking appointments made, the province is only able to do that if they're made on Clic-Santé, the provincial online portal, Harvey said.

"Note that in some regions, parents who want their child to be vaccinated at school must make an appointment on Clic-Santé. In other regions, the portal is not used," she said.

In those other regions, there's no data available on how many parents have signed up their children for shots at school.

The school nurse visits will continue throughout this month, until Christmas vacation, so it won't be clear for a few weeks what the overall uptake has been.

However, the first week's count is already somewhat encouraging, considering some recent numbers that suggested Quebec parents will be far less likely to get their kids vaccinated than parents in the rest of Canada.

A Leger poll released in late November showed that about half of parents in the rest of the country agreed that once the kids' vaccine had passed trials, children under 12 should get vaccinated.

In Quebec, however, the number was only about 40 per cent, depending on whether the parents had one or more child -- among Quebec parents with an only child, only 37 per cent agreed, while 43 per cent said a firm no.

Among parents with more than one child, it was 44 per cent, still significantly lower than the national average.

That survey was done in September and October.

Another survey, done by Quebec's public health institute as part of a rolling online poll about COVID-19, showed two weeks ago that only 60 per cent of Quebec parents planned to get their five-to-11 kids a shot.

MONTREAL APPEARS LOWER THAN AVERAGE

The uptake so far varies by region, said Harvey, though she didn't say which regions were the highest.

"In six regions, we can see a greater enthusiasm for the moment," she said.

"For the other regions, the percentage is between 25 and 37 per cent." 

Montreal is currently lower than the provincial average, unless there has been a big jump over the last day.

On Wednesday, Montreal's public health director, Dr. Mylène Drouin, said that 14 per cent of Montreal children have been vaccinated, with another 16 per cent booked, adding up to 30 per cent in total.

Overall, there are nearly 654,000 children aged five to 11 across the province.