Outaouais vaccine rollout lags behind rest of Quebec


Allyson Beauregard

OUTAOUAIS – Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced the Outaouais would return to a red zone as of April 1 amid a considerable increase in cases in the region over the previous few weeks (see page 2). According to Pontiac MNA André Fortin, the numerous and increasing outbreaks in the Outaouais warrant specific government action; most notably an increase in vaccinations as well as
accelerated contact tracing and targeted testing using rapid tests.
“For no good reason, the Outaouais remains the region with the lowest proportion of vaccinated residents. As the risk of getting the virus increases across the region, government must make more vaccines [available] to Outaouais residents. This is a race we cannot lose,” he wrote on social media.
Of Québec’s 18 administrative regions, the Outaouais ranks lowest in terms of the proportion of its population vaccinated, with 7.5%, according to data
on March 24. Montérégie ranked second worst at about 9%. Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James, Nunavik and Cote-Nord rank the highest, with a vaccination rate of about 61%, 48% and 24% respectively. Isolated and remote regions, like Baie-James and Nunavik, were fourth on the vaccination priority list, which explains their high numbers.
“The government’s explanation is that we have less seniors living in care facilities so our seniors weren’t vaccinated as quickly, and that a low number of healthcare workers accepted the vaccine. This seems a tenuous explanation. Some regions have 20% of their population vaccinated while we were at [7.5%]. This is completely unacceptable. With the recent outbreaks, the need to increase vaccination is obvious. The government sent more doses to Montreal initially because chances of getting the virus were higher. This is now also true in the Outaouais, therefore more vaccines are needed here as well,” explained Fortin, noting the government has partially responded to his demand to ramp-up Outaouais vaccine rollout.
“The government agreed today (March 24) to send 3,500 more vaccines than planned to the region. This is a start, but we will need more to catch up quickly. The current outbreaks warrant it,” he concluded.
On March 30, Legault said more vaccines will be sent to regions experiencing the largest increases in cases.
Although CISSSO stated the Pontiac’s vaccination site in Campbell’s Bay would be open five days a week when in full operation, sometimes it’s only open three or four. However, a number of appointment slots for April and May were added on March 29, with the site open six days a week in some cases.
“The Campbell’s Bay vaccination site is open depending on the doses we have. New days and hours are offered as we receivethe vaccines,” said Camille Brochu-Lafrance, CISSSO communications agent, adding that a number of
factors determine how many vaccines are sent to each vaccination site.
“It depends on the capacity of the vaccination sites, the number of appointments made, population, and the number of doses received,” she concluded.