Quebec bumps up COVID-19 booster campaign ahead of new school year, fall

WATCH: Many Quebec students are heading back to school in the coming days. With COVID-19 still circulating widely, the virus is likely to re-enter classrooms too. Quebec's public health authorities are calling it the safest back-to-school period since the pandemic began. But as Global’s Gloria Henriquez reports, some strongly disagree.

Quebec is allowing anyone 18 and older to sign up for COVID-19 booster shots ahead of schedule as the school year begins and the fall season looms.

Luc Boileau, the province’s public health director, announced adults of all ages could book their appointments starting Tuesday — instead of next week as previously planned.

“We want to insist that there are several measures in place to protect themselves and protect those around them as they return to their regular fall activities,” he said, citing vaccination as an example.

Boileau also said a bivalent vaccine targeting both the original strain of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant should be available in less than two weeks. His comment comes as Canadians are still waiting on Health Canada’s approval of bivalent vaccine submissions from Moderna and Pfizer.

He said once a bivalent shot is available it will immediately replace the older-generation vaccines for distribution across the province.

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Meanwhile, children who are between the ages of 12 and 17 and have received two doses of the vaccine will also be able to get a third shot in Quebec. The idea is to get a booster shot if it has been at least five months since their last dose — or three months since they were last infected with the virus.

The province’s immunization committee is also on the verge of recommending a booster for vulnerable kids between the ages of five and 11.

As classes start, the government will be handing out two kits of rapid novel coronavirus tests to each student. Boileau said there will be more will be given out after that period, too.

Schools will be able to administer tests to any student who has COVID-19 symptoms. Disinfection measures will also be in place again to prevent the spread of the virus.

Boileau reminded parents to test their children if they are symptomatic and to keep them home if they are positive. Under the province’s rules, anyone who contracts COVID-19 must isolate for five days. After that period, children will still need to limit their activities and wear a mask when with others for the following five days.

with files from The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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