The likelihood that the COVID-19 vaccine will be made mandatory by Quebec once it becomes available is “very, very low,” according to national public health director Horacio Arruda.
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“We have a law in Quebec which allows an obligation to vaccinate in exceptional circumstances of a health crisis. I want to tell you that we have never used it and that it is not at all in our boxes, ”said Dr. Arruda at a press briefing Tuesday in Quebec.
However, he does not rule out this possibility entirely, even if he considers it “very, very weak”.
“This is really not how we operate now,” he said.
The statement comes as two global vaccine candidates – those from Pfizer and Moderna – have demonstrated unexpected efficacy rates of over 90%.
According to a recent survey by the firm Léger, nearly 69% of Quebecers say they are ready to receive a vaccine against COVID-19, a figure up 6% compared to a month ago, before the announcements biopharmaceutical companies.
Public health has not yet determined which groups of individuals will be the first to be vaccinated, but it will be based on recommendations from two groups of scientists in Quebec and Canada.
Healthcare workers and the elderly could be prioritized, said Dr Arruda.
Not the end of sanitary measures
The arrival of a vaccine against COVID-19 will not mean the end of health measures such as wearing a mask, warned Dr. Arruda.
“When we start to vaccinate, we will not have vaccinated the entire population. We will have to see how the virus will react in relation to the quantity of people who have been vaccinated, ”he detailed.
Especially since no vaccine is 100% reliable, recalls Dr. Arruda. Thus, according to the scenarios which are currently being studied, public health does not intend to modify its policy on wearing a mask.
“To think that the day we have a vaccine, we come back as before the COVID in the short term, I think it’s no,” he admitted.
According to the national director of public health, it is still too early to say for how many months the health measures will remain in place.
“It could be between 12 and 18 months, it could also be 9 months. Everything will depend on the quantity of vaccines we will have and the population’s response to vaccination. ”