British Columbia and Quebec see first doses of COVID-19 increase after passport-vaccine systems are in place
British Columbia and Quebec see increase in vaccination appointments after announcing residents will not be able to visit restaurants, gyms, cinemas and bars unless they are fully vaccinated against COVID -19.
Since BC health officials announced the province’s vaccination card on August 23, registrations to receive the first doses have tripled among residents under 40, from 4,161 appointment Monday and Tuesday of the previous week at 12,904 appointment last Monday and Tuesday. In Quebec, the daily number of first doses administered increased from 5,437 on August 5, the day Premier François Legault revealed the provincial passport, to 8,162 two weeks later.
During this period, the first daily doses administered in Quebec increased by 50 percent, while the rate of first doses in Ontario remained stable and that in Alberta decreased by 3 percent. Alberta has rejected issuing vaccine passports, while Ontario now plans to implement one, sources told The Globe and Mail.
The rise in vaccinations in British Columbia and Quebec may not seem high, but experts say every additional inoculation counts as the country faces a fourth wave driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. In most provinces, first-dose immunization rates stagnated at the end of June to a minimum of 60 percent in Alberta and Saskatchewan and to a maximum of 73 percent in Newfoundland and Labrador. Vaccine passports that restrict unvaccinated people ‘access to certain businesses and popular events are a tool some provinces are using to encourage more residents to get vaccinated.
Quebec and British Columbia are following Prince Edward Island and Manitoba in implementing a provincial passport, while other jurisdictions continue to debate or reject them as a tool to tame the fourth wave and keep businesses and schools open.
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Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba will restrict many social activities – including going to restaurants, bars, festivals, cinemas and gymnasiums – to those vaccinated, while the Manitoba vaccination card will also allow holders to visit long-term care facilities and sit with members of different households in eateries. The Prince Edward Island Pass allows out-of-province travelers to avoid the region’s mandatory quarantine. None of these provinces require a passport to access essential services such as education or health care.
Quebec health ministry spokesperson Robert Maranda said the province has seen increased vaccination rates across all age groups since the Aug. 5 announcement of the 12-29-year-old population. showing the highest increase in turnout.
“We are really happy with the response,” he said. Quebec has now vaccinated 76 percent of all its residents with at least one dose and 68 percent with two.
“When we talk about young adults, of course we saw a boost there … They understand the importance of being vaccinated, and they don’t want to be denied a social life.”
Quebec reported 612 new cases on Friday, the highest one-day total in three months, and health officials reported that the Delta variant now accounts for more than half of cases in the province. Likewise, British Columbia regularly registers more than 600 cases a day, which was enough for the government to reinstate a mask warrant on Wednesday for the first time since July 1.
Mr Maranda said residents of Quebec appeared to be receptive to the new vaccine passport and 87% of people were ready to download the app and view the document on their phones during pilot tests. A separate poll by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies found that 81 percent of Quebec respondents “strongly support” or “rather support” the passport.
The same poll showed that 76 percent of Canadians outside of Quebec would support a similar passport in their jurisdiction. Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said on Friday that, if re-elected, the Liberals would provide $ 1 billion in funding to help all provinces create passports to prove they had been vaccinated. The federal government had already announced on August 13 that it would begin requiring the vaccination of all federal officials, as well as passengers on trains and planes, in the coming weeks.
Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland have yet to announce a vaccine passport, while Alberta has rejected calls for such a system to be implemented. Details of Ontario’s plan have yet to be worked out. Albertans will soon be able to print a card to show they have been fully immunized, but the document will not grant holders additional privileges, said Justin Brattinga, spokesperson for the Minister of Employment, the Economy and of Innovation Doug Schweitzer.
“If an Albertan has received his two doses, he must be sure that the risks of serious health effects are extremely low,” he said in a statement Thursday.
The lack of a provincial passport to date has prompted some municipalities and public sector organizations in Ontario to implement their own policies. On Thursday, the City of Toronto announced that its 37,660 Toronto Public Service employees will need to be immunized by October 31 or undergo frequent testing, while the City of Mississauga will also follow the same measures for its 7,000 employees. .
But Ontario has policies in place for some areas that vaccine passports in British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec do not cover, such as health care. In Quebec, employers will not be able to make possession of a vaccination passport a criterion for hiring.
Some health experts in the province say that not using the provincial passport to make vaccines mandatory for all essential workers and to access essential services is a mistake.
Richard Gold, professor of law and medicine at McGill University, said the current passport may have led to an initial increase in vaccinations, but that more stringent measures will be needed – including requiring workers to health and educators are immune – to get the inoculation rate up to 90 percent, which many experts say may be necessary to quell the Delta variant.
“This passport gives people a boost,” he said. “The problem is, there are only a certain number of people who will be pushed. There is only one solution left, and that is a vaccine requirement. “
Dr Gold said he believed the provincial government was bowing to a strong minority by not implementing tougher measures.
François Béland, head of the health services research axis at the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital and professor of public health at the University of Montreal, is not sure that the province should use its passport-vaccine system to introduce more stringent policies. Stronger measures risk turning some people away from immunization altogether, he said.
“The stronger the coercion, the less the public debate is about the vaccine and the more it is about the coercion itself,” said Dr Beland.
With the analysis of data from Chen Wang
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