Quebec health minister says an updated booster shot will be available this fall
The Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec (INSPQ) Covid-19 data shows cases of the virus rising slightly in the past weeks, due to the new variant EG.5, an omicron sub variant.
According to INSPQ, there were 1,691 confirmed cases for the week of August 13 in all of Quebec, with an average of 229 cases a day compared to the week of June 18 which had 637 cases with an average of 94 cases daily.
In the Outaouais during the week of August 13, there were 27 new cases, while the previous week of August 6 had an increase of only 14 cases. Throughout the province, 11.5% of tests were positive for the week leading up to August 12, according to the Canadian government.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said in their August 9 risk analysis that the new variant is one of interest and “while EG.5 has shown increased prevalence, growth advantage, and immune escape properties, there have been no reported changes in disease severity to date.” WHO is monitoring the variant closely.
On August 23, the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) announced that an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will be recommended for vulnerable or at-risk individuals this fall. The Comité d'immunisation du Québec (CIQ) and the National Director of public health Luc Boileau had previously announced they also recommended the additional dose.
Those considered vulnerable are people living in residential and long-term care centres, or in environments with a high number of vulnerable seniors. This also includes those who are immunocompromised, pregnant women, healthcare workers, and those living in remote or isolated areas.
A minimum of six months from the last dose is required in order to receive a new dose. The new vaccine is adapted to the new variants and is currently being approved by Health Canada.
Individuals experiencing symptoms are encouraged to take rapid tests. These are available for free to the public at vaccination and screening centres and in schools and educational childcare centres. The stock at pharmacies is now reserved mostly for those more vulnerable.
A spokesperson for Centre Intégré de Santé et de Services Sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO) affirms that at-home testing kits are still able to detect the new variant, stating “We have no recent data to indicate that rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 are unreliable.”
Residents can book an appointment online to get their first, second or booster doses at Quebec.ca/vaccinCOVID. Gatineau residents can go to the walk-in vaccination centre at 75 Blvd de la Gappe, open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm and Thursday from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm.