MONTREAL -- "We're seeing the beginning of a third wave" of COVID-19, driven by variants, Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Friday.

Despite that, he said the province is staying the course and does not intend to change the recently granted flexibilities -- at least, not for now.

The premier made the statements immediately after getting inoculated, under the watch of cameras, Friday at the mass vaccination centre located at Montreal's Olympic Stadium.

"We're not changing the measures,'' he said, as several regions recently moved from red alert to orange, places of worship can now accommodate up to 250 people and on Monday, high school students will be back physically in class full time.

Legault received a dose of the Pfizer vaccine in his left arm, and was met with applause by health care staff and others on hand.

Shortly afterwards, in a news briefing, he answered questions about the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) report, delivered in the morning, which concluded that the public health measures currently in place are not sufficient to slow the rapid progression of the variants, which are more transmissible and pathogenic than the original strain of the virus.

There will be -- and this was expected -- an increase in infections and hospitalizations in the coming days, Legault warned, adding, "But it's still under control."

He promises to monitor the situation closely and will provide an update on Tuesday, he said, adding that he is concerned about home visits and the fast-approaching Easter and Passover holiday.

But for him, the important thing is to "find a balance."

While he said he would not announce a possible tightening of the measures, he stressed that if the restrictions are too severe, the population's adherence to the health rules will decrease.

He reiterated his faith in the vaccination campaign, adding that the province is on track to get everyone who want it one dose of the vaccine by June 24.

On Friday, he said he was very happy to have received his dose.

"I would like to take this opportunity to tell all Quebecers to make an appointment when it's your turn, it's important to get vaccinated," he said. "It doesn't hurt. It's like a passport to our freedom."

Born in 1957 and 63 years old, Legault waited until it was his age group's turn to be vaccinated and was not given any privileges.

Last week, Health Minister Christian Dubé had an appointment to be vaccinated at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. The minister responsible for seniors, Marguerite Blais, was also vaccinated.

Authorities hope that elected officials will set an example, dispel fears and encourage people to get vaccinated. 

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 26, 2021