Thousands sign up for 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine as Quebec threatens to tax the unvaxxed
More than 7,000 people registered for their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, amid threats by Quebec officials to tax the unvaccinated.
"Our highest in several days," tweeted Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé, noting that 5,000 appointments were also made on Monday. "This is encouraging."
Dubé notes the appointments were made across all the age groups, and 107,000 doses of vaccine were administered Tuesday alone.
The same day, Quebec Premier François Legault announced the province will impose a "significant" penalty on people who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for non-medical reasons.
Legault called the measure a "health care contribution," adding that he is in consultations with his finance minister and legal advisers to determine how much the fines could be.
The premier already argued $50 or $100 "is not significant" enough for him.
The tax would apply to all adults in Quebec who refuse to get their first dose of a vaccine "in the next few weeks." People with medical exemptions will not be subject to the tax.
The unvaccinated "will have a bill to pay because there are consequences on our health care network and it's not up to all Quebecers to pay for this," Legault insisted. "It's a question of equity because right now, these people are putting a very important burden on our health care network and I think it's normal that the majority of the population is asking that there be a consequence."
Last week, the province announced it would also require Quebecers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to access Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) and Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) stores.
This new measure will come into effect on Jan. 18.
"I hope this will be an additional incentive for some to go get their first dose," Dubé said. "The vaccination passport will be extended to certain non-essential commerces in the coming weeks and we'll come back with a list after we have talked to the industries."
Tuesday, 62 more people died because of COVID-19.
There are currently 100,448 active cases in Quebec. Hospitalizations have risen to 2,742 and ICU numbers have increased to 255.