Times Colonist

In Montreal, sound trucks to blast out the arrival of mobile vaccine clinics


Quebec will deploy sound trucks in hard-hit Montreal neighbourh­oods to announce the presence of mobile clinics offering Oxford-AstraZenec­a vaccines, Health Minister Christian Dube said Friday.

There will be more than 20,000 doses of that vaccine available with or without appointmen­ts over the weekend, he said on Twitter.

Dube said sound trucks will blast messages in multiple languages along residentia­l streets in western Montreal and in the city’s diverse Côte-desNeiges borough, adding that the AstraZenec­a vaccine is for those 55 and over. “We are waiting for a decision from public health to extend the age for which [AstraZenec­a] can be administer­ed,” the minister said.

Dube said since the government lowered the eligible age for the AstraZenec­a vaccine to 55, about 160,000 more people have been vaccinated, 22,000 of them in Montreal.

But data provided by the Health Department suggests many eligible Quebecers haven’t taken up the offer.

“In Quebec, more than 635,000 people aged 55 to 79 have still not been vaccinated and have not made an appointmen­t to get the vaccine,” the department said in an email. Quebec has received 411,200 doses of AstraZenec­a and 267,000 remain unused.

The AstraZenec­a vaccine is available to Quebecers between the ages of 55 and 79 at walkin clinics and by appointmen­t across the province. Quebec suspended use of that vaccine in those younger than 55 over concerns about rare blood clots in a small number of recipients.

While Montreal was the hardest-hit region in Quebec during the first and second wave of the pandemic, the number of new, daily cases in the city has remained relatively stable since late February.

Dr. Sarah-Amelie Mercure, the associate medical chief for infection and disease control at Montreal’s public health authority, said that while officials have seen a slight increase in the number of new cases, the city is not reporting the explosive growth in infections that’s been seen in other parts of the province.

Mercure said there are a number of factors limiting the spread of COVID-19 in Montreal, including relatively strict health orders that limit contacts and a more aggressive, targeted approach to controllin­g the spread of variants.

Public health has begun conducting more exhaustive contact-tracing investigat­ions, she said in an interview Friday. “We’re really looking for the source. When we don’t find the source, we look even further.”

Since the start of the pandemic, Montreal has reported a total of about 6,000 confirmed cases for every 100,000 people, Masse wrote, adding that the real number of cases is likely three to five times higher.

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