COVID-19 update – Larger gatherings permitted for Xmas; booster eligibility extended

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Allyson Beauregard

QUEBEC – The province is relaxing rules for private indoor gatherings in time for Christmas, Health Minister Christian Dubé and Public Health Director, Dr. Horacio Arruda announced on December 7. Starting December 23, up to 20 people are allowed to gather in private homes, despite the recent increase in infections.
Stabilized hospitalizations, vaccination of those between 5 and 11, vaccine passports, respect for health measures and the high vaccination rate were reasons for the decision
They strongly recommended that everyone gathering in homes be double vaccinated and if unvaccinated people attend, they should follow mask wearing and distancing rules.
However, Dubé reminded residents to remain cautious, limiting contacts and abiding by health measures to control the virus to prevent the decision from being reversed. As of now, there is no expiry date set for the new rule and all other measures, like mask wearing, remain in effect.
Expanded COVID booster shots
Third “booster” shots are now offered to health workers, those with chronic health conditions, people living in remote communities and pregnant women.
Appointments can be booked immediately via the ClicSante website, with a gap of 6 months needed between second and third doses.
As of January 4, people 65 to 69 can book an appointment and those 60 to 64 can follow on January 6. Before the announcement, only people 70 and older were eligible.
Although Canada’s National Advisory Comm-ittee on Immunization (NACI) strongly recommends that everyone 50 and older be offered a third dose, Dubé said the province has decided it’s not necessary to offer it to those under 60 for the moment because a decrease in effectiveness hasn’t been witnessed for the younger age groups.