Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed in a press conference today that Canada has secured an agreement with Pfizer to procure 249,000 doses of its vaccine before the end of the month, with the first arriving next week. Millions of more doses will be deliverd in the following weeks.
The nationwide vaccination campaign will prioritize those most vulnerable such as people over 70, residents, and staff of long-term care homes and health care workers.
Quebec is due to get roughly 56,000 of those doses and according to Health Minister Chrisitan Dubé, the province will receive around 4,000 doses as early as next week. While the 4,000 doses will only cover 2,000 people, the province hopes to vaccinate 22,000 to 28,000 Quebecers between December 21, 2020, and January 4, 2021.
"My speaking to you about vaccination today means that this is concrete, and the arrival of vaccines is imminent," he said.
"Quebec is ready and we're able to accomplish the job."
The government anticipates that roughly 10 per cent of the population could be immunized within the first three months of the vaccination program. The goal is to have 75 per cent of the population immunized in that time, which means roughly 13 million doses will be required.
There will be 20 sites in the province, including two in Montreal, where the vaccines will be delivered.
The news comes as Quebec health officials reported 1,577 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, a drop from the weekend when the province reported its highest ever one-day count which was 2,031 on Saturday.
Montreal reported the highest number of new cases of any Quebec region on Monday, with 472.
Quebec's seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases now stands at 1,544 per day. A total of 153,176 have been infected in the province since the start of the pandemic. The province also reported another 22 deaths linked to the disease, for a total of 7,277 so far.
The pressure that COVID-19 is putting on Quebec hospital emergency rooms is being felt mainly in Montérégie, Montreal, Quebec, and the Outaouais, say health authorities. There are now 818 people in the hospital being treated for COVID-19 across Quebec— the highest number since early June.
According to the Canadian Press, the average occupancy rate of emergency rooms in Montreal was measured at 92 per cent. At the Lakeshore General Hospital, it was 132 per cent, and at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, 126 per cent. Meanwhile, the Jewish General Hospital has been so busy, 43 patients have been on stretchers for at least 48 hours.