A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal's Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Quebec starts COVID-19 vaccination bookings for seniors; those in Ontario must wait

Quebec starts COVID-19 vaccination bookings for seniors; those in Ontario must wait

Seniors in Canada’s two largest provinces are facing significantly different timelines for vaccinations, as increasing spread of COVID-19 variants causes concern for health officials across the country.

Quebecers 85 years and older were able to register for COVID-19 vaccinations starting Thursday, while seniors in Ontario must wait weeks to book in that province.

“We’re very happy with what we’ve seen with the vaccinations,” Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said.

He added that there were some minor technical issues, but close to 100,000 people had signed up for appointments the first day.

Some doses were already being administered in Laval, just north of Montreal. Inoculations for the greater Montreal area are to begin Monday.

Ontario’s vaccine distribution committee, blaming a lack of supply for the delay, has said seniors there won’t be able to book appointments until March 15.

Provinces are moving forward with their vaccine distribution plans as federal officials assure the disruptions that have plagued supply lines have been rectified.

The vaccine appointment launch in Alberta Wednesday left many frustrated when the government’s online portal crashed after more than 150,000 people tried to get access to it about the same time.

Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist with the University of Toronto, said he is concerned that seniors’ access to vaccinations will vary wildly based on the province where they live. He said the pandemic, particularly vaccination distribution, is putting a spotlight on issues with the fractured health-care system in the country.

“What’s becoming very, very clear is that the interventions are highly variable from province to province,” Bowman said.

While all regions are under immense pressure, Bowman said Ontario’s delayed rollout should have been avoided.

“People’s lives will be damaged or even lost because of these delays,” he said.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is in charge of the federal vaccine distribution program, said he understands that provinces may not have a lot of confidence in dose deliveries after a disappointing performance this month.

But supply is already ramping back up, he said. The largest number of doses yet was delivered this week — 643,000 across the country.

“Provinces are now in a position to fully deploy their immunization plans,” Fortin said.

More than 40 per cent of seniors over 80 have now received one dose of the vaccine. About 5.5 per cent have received a second dose.

But Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, cautioned it is not time for people to let their guard down.

“COVID-19 remains a serious threat.”

Increasing spread of more contagious variants of the novel coronavirus in Quebec prompted officials there to require primary school students in red pandemic-alert zones, including the greater Montreal area, to wear masks starting March 8.

The B.1.1.7 variant — first detected in the United Kingdom — has become a significant issue in Montreal, where there is still widespread community transmission. The variant is making up eight to 10 per cent of new cases.

Dr. Mylene Drouin, Montreal’s public health director, said 40 per cent of cases linked to variants in the city have involved children.

Hospitalizations, however, are declining provincewide. Health authorities are reporting 858 new infections and 16 more deaths.

Ontario’s science advisory group predicted Thursday that the more contagious variants will likely make up 40 per cent of new cases in the province by mid-March.

Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the group, compared the weeks ahead to a “minefield” and urged vigilance of public-health orders.

The group said vaccinating high-risk communities and seniors will drive down hospitalizations and deaths.

Ontario reported 1,138 new infections and 23 more deaths linked to the virus.

British Columbia is also ramping up screening for variants. There were nine new cases of virus variants of concern there Thursday.

Across Canada, there has been a total of 20,945 new cases over the past seven days.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021.

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Parents and students learned Tuesday what the coming school year will look like. It's pretty much back to business as usual, said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. School precautions include frequent cleaning, keeping students in the same groups where possible, planning the school day to allow for physical distancing and staying home when sick. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s largest school board says no to United Conservative draft school curriculum

CALGARY — Alberta’s largest school board says it will not use the… Continue reading

Cowboy Kicks, originally scheduled for May 5, will now take place Sept. 18. (Contributed photo)
Westerner Park’s Cowboy Kicks fundraiser moved to Sept. 18

A major fundraiser for Westerner Park and the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sport… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Josh Tarzwell tries to tip a point shot past Lethbridge Hurricanes goalie Car Tetachuk in WHL action Friday night at the Centrium. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels struggles continue, drop seventh straight to Hurricanes

Hurricanes score three power-play goals in 6-3 win

Downtown Red Deer patio restaurants have been busy this summer. Contributed photo
City of Red Deer expediting patio application process for restaurants

The City of Red Deer is allowing businesses to install patios prior… Continue reading

RDC Queens forward Camryn Wallan was named the 2020-21 RDC Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Wallan, Podgorenko named 2020-21 RDC Outstanding Athletes of the Year

Even with the cancellation of the 2020-21 Alberta Colleges Athletic Association, RDC… Continue reading

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan is among those who have signed an open letter criticizing the government’s return to stricter health measures. (Advocate file photo).
Updated: Kenney tells UCP caucus COVID-19 dissent OK, breaking health rules means expulsion

15 MLAs released letter on Wednesday critical of new health restrictions

Owner of 4 Point Taekwondo Kevin Mejia holds a board as organizer and martial artist Kevin Olsen breaks it in Edmonton on Friday, April 9, 2021. One hundred martial artists from around the world, will be breaking a board for an event called "Break for a Breakthrough." The idea is for martial artists to unite and re-engage with the arts because they may have drifted away or lost enthusiasm as a result of the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Break for a Breakthrough: Canadian hosts international martial arts demonstration

EDMONTON — Whether he’s breaking a wooden board, a clay tile, cement… Continue reading

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Ediburgh, left, look on as Manitoba Beaver peaks out of his box at a July 14, 1970 ceremony in which Hudson's Bay Company observed an old tradition. The death of Prince Philip has reminded a small French village in Manitoban about how a royal visit half a century ago made the community the centre of frog racing in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Prince Philip’s frog-jumping legacy in a Manitoba French community

WINNIPEG — The death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, has reminded… Continue reading

The Yukon provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday July 6, 2020. Yukon residents will head to the polls on Monday for Canada's fourth election held during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Yukon residents set to vote in fourth election held in Canada during pandemic

WHITEHORSE — Yukon residents will head to the polls on Monday for… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole, former PM Harper speak on ‘build back right’ for pandemic recovery

OTTAWA — Top Tory leaders of the past and present will speak… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Tuesday, March 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals set to debate universal basic income, pharmacare, OAS hike

OTTAWA — Grassroots Liberals have taken up Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call… Continue reading

Students enter the Pierre Laporte Secondary School as secondary school students return to class full time during the COVID-19 pandemic in Montreal, Monday, March 29, 2021. Pandemic-fuelled frustration has some teens expressing anger in unhealthy ways after a year of missed social connections that would typically help them mature and regulate their emotions, says a psychiatrist calling for more education on coping skills as part of the school curriculum. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Teach students coping skills to deal with anger, including during pandemic: doctor

Pandemic-fuelled frustration has some teens expressing anger in unhealthy ways after a… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday’s $25 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $25 million jackpot… Continue reading

jobs - T - 3-6-2020
Finding a job: 3 job search truisms you need to accept

A job search has many moving parts; your mindset is the most… Continue reading

Most Read