COVID-19 update: Vaccine passports mandatory; third doses for immunocompromised

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Allyson Beauregard

QUÉBEC – As of September 1, Quebecers now have to show proof of full vaccination against COVID to enter gyms, bars, restaurants, festivals and other non-essential activities. Québec Premier François Legault ann-ounced a number of other activities and locations the passport is required for on August 24: cruises, conventions, organized sports, zoos, movie theatres, and more. A full list is available on the government website www.quebec.ca/coronavirus (French only for now). Although there is a transition period,
the system will be fully enforced as of September 15.
Two VaxiCode apps – one for people to show proof of vaccination via a QR code and another for businesses and venues to verify it – are available in Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Paper proof of vaccination can also be used for those who do not have a cell phone.
Christian Dubé, Québec Health Minister, said the Ministry of Health will grant vaccine passport exemptions to some people who haven’t been double-vaccinated: those who participated in the Medicago vaccine trial and those “with contraindications to vaccination against COVID.” Those with “contraindications” will have to get a note from their doctor and present it at a vaccination centre by using a new option on the ClicSanté website.
According to Legault, employers have the right to demand that  employees be vaccinated. On August 17, he announced that health care workers in the private and public sectors who are in contact with the public for 15 minutes or more daily will be required to be fully vaccinated by October 1. A parliamentary commission with opposition parties began meeting August 26 in the National Assembly to debate mandatory vaccination for health workers and other public workers like teachers and daycare workers as well as the consequences employees will face if they refuse.
Back to school
Most of the province’s students have been back to school for about a week, with a little more normalcy than there was at the same time last year. Education Minister Jean-François Roberge announced changes to the original back-to-school plan from June on August 24.
Primary and secondary students in nine regions – including the Outaouais – must wear masks at all times while indoors, including in classrooms. In the other regions, masks are only required in common areas, on school buses and when moving around the school, but not in classes. All other parts of June’s plan still stand, such as resuming field trips and after-school activities, and axing classroom bubbles.
Students don’t need to show proof of full vaccination to participate in sports and activities within their school, but it may be required for inter-school activities that involve prolonged contact.
Assessment clinics closing
As of September 6, a number of COVID designated assessment clinics were closed: 104 rue Barry in Gatineau as well those in emergency departments of the Papineau, Wakefield, Maniwaki and Shawville hospitals. These clinics offered medical consultations and screening for people with COVID symptoms. However, designated screening clinics – like the one at the Mansfield CLSC that’s open for walk-ins from Monday to Friday from 9:30 am until noon –  remain open.
“These closures are taking place in a context where Family Medince Groups (GMFs) and medical clinics are now able to receive patients with COVID symptoms. They have all the necessary personal protective equipment and have implemented all the required protocols and procedures,” said the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais’ (CISSSO) notice.
Individuals with COVID symptoms can get a medical appointment in one of these ways: if registered with a family physician, GMF, or medical clinic, they may contact them for an in-person appointment; if the person isn’t registered with a family doctor or medical clinic, they can call 1-877-644-4545 to be referred to the appropriate resource; call Info-Santé by dialing 811; or ask their pharmacist for advice.
Vaccination
Québec’s immunization committee (CIQ) is recommending immunocompromised people (such as transplant recipients and those receiving chemotherapy or radiation) or people who are undergoing dialysis receive a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. There must be a minimum of four weeks between the second and third dose and it’s available at any of the province’s walk-in vaccination clinics