At a press conference Monday, Health Minister Christian Dubé announced that as of Tuesday, July 6, Quebecers will be able to move up their second vaccine dose appointment to a date between four and eight weeks following their first dose if they so choose.
Vaccine manufacturers recommend a minimum of four weeks between doses, the minister said.
He added that though Quebec public health officials still recommend a period of eight weeks between doses, they're giving "latitude" to residents to make their own decision about the interval — especially, Dubé continued, in light of the "threat" of coronavirus variants.
The move marks the second time that the government has allowed Quebecers to advance their second dose appointments.
In June, the government of Quebec cut the recommended interval between first and second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines from 16 to eight weeks.
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.
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In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak this fall, rather than closing some non-essential services altogether, Dubé said access to high-risk activities like bars, gyms and contact sports would only be permitted for Quebecers who have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The health minister also said that in the event of a future outbreak, Quebecers who have received two doses will be able to continue living their lives "normally."
"Those who refuse to get vaccinated, I have often told them it's their right," Dubé said.
"But they need to know, in the case of an outbreak or transmission in their area, they risk having to [self] isolate, having to get tested, or not having access to certain activities."
But he raised the possibility of limiting some services to people who had received two doses.
Is Quebec past its last full lockdown? At a press conference Monday, Health Minister Christian Dubé suggested that the government wouldn't opt for widespread closures in the event of an increase in cases in the fall.
But he did raise the possibility of limiting some services to people who had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.