Montrealers are in for a winter like no other. With the cold season looming and likely without a vaccine until at least 2021, we need to be prepared to continue to think critically about the risk that our actions could spread COVID-19 in Quebec, according to Dr. Matthew Oughton, Director of the Royal College Training program in Infectious Diseases at the McGill University Health Centre.
"The overriding way that we should be governing ourselves, both as individuals and as a society, is with the recognition that this is still a very transmissible disease," Dr. Oughton told MTL Blog.
You want to take the knowledge that we've learned so far and apply it as we move forward.
Dr. Matthew Oughton
"We also need to recognize that this disease results in a huge spectrum. Some may be infected, but show zero symptoms and others may desperately need to go to the ICU, otherwise, will likely die."
"And, of course, everything in between."
He said we can't "live in fear," but we also need to be aware of the risk that we may be exposing our contacts to the virus.
"If we can avoid the risk, I'd rather not take the chance that you're the one that needs hospital care and medical care and can't get it."
"We do still have to govern ourselves with a mindset that the vast majority of our population is still susceptible. If you haven't gotten COVID-19 and recovered, then you remain at risk."
"I do believe that there will be a safe and effective vaccine, but it will not be made available to the public until at least spring 2021. We need to be prepared for the winter without a vaccine to swoop in and save the day."
"We, the undersigned, demand that the Government of Quebec publicly reject, as of now, the idea of a mandatory vaccination passport and that it commit itself to do like the Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, has done, that is to say, prohibit the obligation to present a vaccination passport in order to attend certain events and practice certain activities," the petition states.
Samson, a former Coalition Avenir Québec member who switched sides in June, held a press conference about the petition alongside Conservative Party of Quebec leader Eric Duhaime on August 12. They explained that the party had already collected 133,000 signatures on a previous petition that did not meet the criteria of the National Assembly.
"We reviewed the wording [...] So we're going to ask these hundreds of thousands of people to re-sign their petition on the National Assembly website, and we're going to invite Quebecers who don't agree with the vaccine passport to come forward as well," Samson said.
The petition, which was posted to the National Assembly website on August 12, had garnered more than 75,000 signatures at the time this article was published.
Furthermore, the Minister added, "vaccination status cannot be a factor of discrimination in hiring."
The news comes on the heels of the government's plan to introduce vaccine passports. The passports would allow double-vaccinated Quebecers to have access to certain non-essential services if there were to be another outbreak of new cases.
These services would include "high risk" activities like "gyms, team sports, bars, restaurants," as well as "moderate or low-risk activities involving a larger number of people."
The passport system would only be applied "once the possibility of having access to two doses of a vaccine has been offered to the entire Quebec population aged 12 and over," the health ministry said in a press release.
In what could possibly be the most fun experience you'll ever have getting a vaccine, Piknic Électronik is partnering with the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal to host a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic this Sunday, July 11.
The clinic is open to festival-goers as well as anyone visiting Parc Jean-Drapeau. Since it's no secret that drugs and alcohol go hand-in-hand with music festivals, we asked what you should you know if you're planning on getting a vaccine dose and also planning on being inebriated.
A Piknic Électronik spokesperson told MTL Blog that "there are no known interactions between vaccines and substance use (drugs and alcohol)."
Still, public health told us it does not recommend attending your vaccination appointment under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Annie Dufour, media relations advisor for the CIUSSS, gave us a few reasons why that is.
Firstly, she said the health care provider giving the vaccine needs informed consent from the person receiving it before administering the dose.
"Alcohol and drugs can impair the ability to fully understand the information given," she said.
Secondly, the side effects of excessive substance use and the side effects of drugs and alcohol may be the same, making it difficult to interpret "clinical manifestations" after vaccination.
In other words, how can you tell if you're feeling faint due to a reaction to the vaccine or due to too much booze?
She said health care professionals on-site will be able to assess whether a person can receive the vaccine.
According to Piknic, the location and time — from 12:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the entrance to the site — were chosen strategically in order to ensure people can give their clear consent if they want to get vaccinated.
This article's cover photo was used for illustrative purposes only.
The government plans to deploy a vaccine passport system only "once the possibility of having access to two doses of a vaccine has been offered to the entire Quebec population aged 12 and over," according to a Thursday press release.
The target date for that benchmark is September 1.
Moreover, it would only be used if there's a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in the province — or, as the Ministry of Health puts it, "only if there is a deterioration or change in the epidemiological situation in a given territory that would justify its use."
The idea is that the vaccine passport would give Quebec an option other than simply locking down non-essential sectors again.
What activities could require a vaccine passport in Quebec?
In its press release, the Ministry of Health listed a number of non-essential services for which a vaccine passport could be required.
These include activities it identified as "high risk" ("gyms, team sports, bars, restaurants, etc."), as well as "moderate or low-risk activities involving a larger number of people," like festivals and sports games.
The vaccine passport would not be required for essential services.
In a statement, Dubé called the current state of infections in the province "encouraging," but said officials are "closely monitoring the emergence and spread of variants."
The passport, he added, would enable fully vaccinated Quebecers to maintain some level of normalcy.
"In the event of a further increase in cases, with the deployment of a vaccine passport, adequately protected individuals will be able to continue with their daily activities, and the economy and public sectors will be able to remain open," Dubé said.
The ministry encouraged Quebecers aged 12 and over to get their second vaccine doses this summer.
Health Canada has a robust website with all the latest information on the vaccines and can answer any questions you may have. Click here for more information.