The Montérégie-Ouest Integrated Health and Social Services Centre (CISSSMO) is stepping up its targeted vaccination campaign in the Haut-Saint-Laurent, which is still lagging behind neighbouring regions in terms of vaccination rates by several percentage points.
According to the Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec, 69.5 per cent of the eligible population in the Haut-Saint-Laurent had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by August 4, while the regional average across the Montérégie now sits at 75.5 per cent.
The public health authority issued a note last week stating that because the population in Akwesasne can be vaccinated outside Quebec (in Ontario and the United States), provincial vaccination records do not accurately account for this population. As such, the Akwesasne numbers have been removed from the population total of the Haut-Saint-Laurent for the purpose of calculating vaccination rates. This decision led to a significant bump in the statistics, which had been hovering under 62 per cent for several weeks.
Currently, just over 57 per cent of the population in the Haut-Saint-Laurent has received two doses and is considered to be adequately protected from the COVID-19 virus; however, the 18-29 and 30-39 age cohorts remain significantly lower at 39.9 and 41.3 per cent respectively.
The CISSSMO announced several weeks ago that it would be focusing specifically on the Haut-Saint-Laurent to improve the vaccination rate. One tactic that seems to be helping has been to increase vaccine accessibility by holding pop-up clinics during local events and sites where people already gather.
Upcoming walk-in vaccination clinics offering a minimum of 108 doses each day have been announced; they will take place on August 13 from 9 a.m. at the Recreation Centre in Hemmingford and on August 15 from 10 a.m. during the demolition derby at the Huntingdon Fairgounds in Hinchinbrooke.
Both first and second doses can be administered during the mobile vaccination clinics. A waiting period of 28 days must be observed between doses. The Moderna vaccine is only available to those over the age of 18, while the Pfizer vaccine may be given to those aged 12 and up. More information on the vaccination clinics, including which vaccines will be available, and any changes to scheduled locations, can be found online at www.santemonteregie.qc.ca/vaccination-contre-la-covid-19-en-monteregie.
The total number of cases being diagnosed daily has been on the rise across Quebec, including in the Montérégie where an increase in positive test results has been observed since July 25. There are currently two outbreaks in the Montérégie. The MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent has zero COVID-19 cases, the MRC des Jardins-de-Napierville has recorded four cases, while nine cases have been diagnosed in the MRC de Beauharnois-Salaberry, and 19 in the MRC de Vaudreuil-Soulanges. The spread of the Delta variant continues to be monitored closely across the province, with at least 78 cases having been identified in the Montérégie.
The Quebec government announced on Tuesday that in reaction to an increase in daily cases as well as the spread of the Delta variant, it would be moving ahead with a vaccination passport. As of September 1, Quebecers will be required to show proof of vaccination in order to participate in non-essential services and activities such as restaurants, bars, movie theatres, and gyms, as well as outdoor festivals and sporting events. The passport will be available through a mobile phone application that can be downloaded for free before the end of the month. Those who do not have access to a smartphone will be able to use a paper version of their proof of vaccination. While acknowledging the province is entering a fourth wave of the pandemic, the government insists there are no plans to revisit the lockdowns that marked each of the previous three waves.