Montreal Public Health does not intend to expand vaccination
The Direction régionale de la santé publique (DRSP) of Montreal does not intend to extend the vaccination of parents or teaching staff to other neighborhoods in establishments subject to outbreaks linked to a variant.
Despite the progress of the British variant B 1.1.7, the DRSP of Montreal says it does not have additional doses for the moment and will have to wait for the results of the pilot project launched on Monday in the city of Côte Saint-Luc, and the Plamondon and Côte-des-Neiges before expanding this strategy to other areas of Montreal.
As of Monday, around 12,000 parents of children as well as teachers from around 30 targeted schools, hosting 26% of outbreaks linked to variants in the metropolis, can receive the vaccine. But since Friday, several other schools have been asking to be included in this project, in particular the Merton school, located not far from Côte Saint-Luc, and the Marie-de-France private college, excluded from the project although it is within the geographical limits of the pilot project.
“Nothing has changed for the schools, the project is ongoing and we operate with the quantity of vaccines available. The objective is to delay the arrival of variants as much as possible and we vaccinate where it is most present, ”insisted Tuesday Jean-Nicolas Aubé, public relations advisor for the CIUSSS du Center-Sud. de-l’Île-de-Montréal and the Direction générale de la santé publique de Montréal.
It is only after having analyzed the results of this “variant suppression” strategy that the DRSP will decide whether or not to extend the vaccination of parents to other neighborhoods. On Tuesday, the director of public health Dr. Mylène Drouin repeated in an interview in the media that the variant was gaining ground and would inevitably become predominant in a few weeks in the metropolis.
Yesterday, the most recent data from the DRSP for the metropolis showed 43 outbreaks linked to variants in school settings in Montreal, 20 in schools and 23 in daycare services, compared to 16 and 11 last week. Five of these outbreaks resulted in more than 20 cases of infection each. The majority still came from the central neighborhoods affected by the pilot project.
By comparison, no less than 32 outbreaks linked to variants are now reported in workplaces in Montreal, and 13 in healthcare settings, a relatively stable number.
Teachers want to be protected
Several school communities are calling for immediate action. Faced with the proliferation of variants, the Autonomous Federation of Education (FAE) on Tuesday asked the government to vaccinate students, parents and staff as soon as there is a presumption or confirmation of variants in a school.
The union representing 49,000 teachers wants the pilot project set up in the targeted neighborhoods of Montreal to be extended to all of Quebec, as soon as the presence of variants is suspected, regardless of whether a school is in the red zone, orange or yellow. To “break” the 3rd wave, the FAE even wants this protection to be extended to janitors and all staff who come into contact with students.
The day before, the Centrale des unions du Québec (CSQ) had also demanded once again from the Minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, that school and early childhood staff be vaccinated in the red zone.
For the moment, the vaccination of children is only authorized within the framework of research projects, since no vaccine against COVID is approved for those under 16 years of age. Several clinical studies are however underway to test the effectiveness and side effects of the vaccine on younger children, in particular by the vaccine manufacturer Moderna.