As the COVID-19 situation in Quebec continues to improve and the mandate for the mask ends in just days, the province’s acting director of public health renews his call for people to receive their first and second reminders – clarifying which groups should receive what.
Dr. Luc Boileau said third doses – or the first booster shot – are recommended for all adults, including pregnant women and healthcare workers. He said it is also recommended for teenagers aged 12 to 17 who are at high risk of complications from COVID-19, or those who live in congregate settings.
However, the fourth doses – or the second booster shot – are only recommended for specific groups who are at high risk of contracting severe COVID.
This includes people living in CHSLDs and residences for the elderly, immunocompromised people, people aged 80 and over living in the community and people living in environments with a high proportion of seniors and vulnerable people.
As of last week, all adults became eligible for a fourth dose, but Boileau said there was no recommendation for the general public to receive one.
People are advised to wait at least three months from their last dose of vaccine or COVID-19 infection to receive a booster shot.
Abandonment of masks, a gradual “return to normal”
The COVID-19 update came as Quebec’s Provincial Institute of Health released new projections on Wednesday that suggested a drop in new hospitalizations to around 55 a day over the next two weeks.
the Iinstitute National Excellence in Health and Social Services (INESSS) also says it expects a decrease in the number of regular and intensive care beds occupied by COVID patients.
According to data collected between April 30 and May 6, the number of new COVID-related hospitalizations in the province declined for the third consecutive week.
Boileau, who was accompanied by pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Caroline Quach and public health medical advisor Dr. Marie-France Raynault, said the news was very encouraging.
“Deaths, hospitalizations, absences – all indicators suggest that we can gradually return to normal,” he said.
Starting Saturday, the mask mandate in Quebec will be lifted in all indoor public spaces except public transit, long-term care homes and health care facilities.
Despite dropping the health measure, Boileau said he doesn’t expect the number of cases or hospitalizations to rise. He does, however, encourage people at high risk of complications from COVID to continue wearing masks.
Asked how dropping the measure for the general public might affect these vulnerable people, Raynault said the province will work to “build tolerance” for mask-wearing.
She said the province will also recommend that people wear masks in crowded places where there may be vulnerable people “out of politeness.”
“We will try to go more through education than through the law to help these people,” she said.