COVID-19 update: Outbreak at Pontiac Hospital; vaccination for all ages in May

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Allyson Beauregard

QUÉBEC – With Pontiac cases continuing to rise, Québec Premier François Legault extended lockdown measures in the Outaouais twice in the last two weeks, until May 9; all schools are closed with online learning, non-essential businesses are closed, and the curfew is reverted to 8 p.m.
“In the Outaouais, the situation is improving, but remains critical. We are
at the limit for COVID hospitalizations, so that is why I am extending the restrictions,” said Legault.
Outbreak at Pontiac Hospital
The Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO) confirmed a COVID-19 outbreak in the Pontiac Community Hospital’s
37-bed short-stay unit on April 23; nine patients and three employees had tested
positive. As of press time, this number was 18 and 12 respectfully.
Actions taken included screening of over 150 employees, and creation of a hot zone. Infection and control measures were implemented with teams dispatched to the area. The population was encouraged to limit their visits to the hospital, except for emergencies.
As a result, the Pontiac Hospital created a small eight-bed COVID unit that could be expanded to 16 beds if necessary.
Vaccination
Mass vaccination of the general population began April 30 with those 50 to 59 years old. Appointment booking is opening gradually for age groups, descending in increments of five years about every two days; 45-49 years on May 3, 40-44 years on May 5, 35-39 years on May 7, 30-34 years on May 10, 25-29 years on May 12, and 18-24 on May 14.
“There’s now no doubt we will reach our goal of providing a first dose to all Quebecers who want one by June 24,” said Christian Dubé, Québec’s health minister, when the news was announced on April 29.
People under 60 years of age who have a chronic disease or health problem that increases the risk of complications of COVID-19 were eligible for vaccination as of April 23 at vaccination clinics, in hospital (for those who have regular follow-ups) or in pharmacies. Previously, only those hospitalized or receiving outpatient follow-up for serious conditions were eligible.
On April 28, pregnant women and people with physical or intellectual disabilities (language, visual and auditory impairments or autism) were eligible for vaccination.
AstraZeneca for 45+
As of April 21, anyone, between 45 and 79 years old, were eligible to receive
the AstraZeneca vaccine given Québec’s current hospitalization rates and epidemiological situation. Previously, the vaccine was only approved for those 55 and older because of rare reports of blood clots, mostly in women under 55, in those who had received the vaccine.