Quebec is officially opening appointments to children aged 12 to 17 as the COVID-19 immunization rollout ramps up and restrictions are set to ease across the province.
Health Minister Christian Dubé outlined during a news conference Thursday how and when shots will be administered, calling the initiative “good news” in the fight against the pandemic.
Children can start getting vaccinated as early as this Friday at Montreal’s two drive-thru vaccination sites at the city’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve racetrack and the Trudeau International Airport.
Appointments can be made starting May 25 at mass inoculation sites across Quebec for children in that age group.
Doses will also offered in school settings starting during the weeks of June 7 and June 14. This will follow a “hybrid” model, Dube said, that could include sending mobile vaccine clinics to schools or transporting students to nearby vaccine centres, depending on the region.
The idea, officials say, is to give families as many options as possible to have access to shots.
Under the plan, the goal is to offer a first dose to teenagers by the end of June and hopefully give the booster before students return to class in the fall.
“They will be given largely before the beginning of the next school year,” Dubé said.
Earlier this month, the province announced its intention to vaccinate students after Health Canada authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 12 and up. Dubé said Quebec is also following the recommendations of its own immunization committee and public health department.
Children under the age of 14 need to get parental permission for a vaccine, while those 14 and over can decide on their own. There are about 530,000 people in the 12-to-17 age group in Quebec, representing about six per cent of the population.
In a bid to reassure parents and children who may be hesitant, Dubé also added that “vaccination means health, vaccination means we can go back to a normal life.”
As vaccination opens to children, Dubé urged eligible adults who haven’t already done so to book their appointments right away.
“If we want a good summer, we need the co-operation of everyone,” he said.
Danielle McCann, the minister in charge of higher education, also echoed Dubé’s statement. She said vaccination will help children and young adults get back to a sense of normalcy for the next academic year. The offering is there, she added, encouraging students to get their shots.
“It’s all together that we will get out of this pandemic,” she said.
When asked about prom and other end-of-year celebrations, Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said talks are underway.
“We’re having discussions with public health and we’ll give you information in the coming days.”