Quebec Taps Employers to Speed Vaccinations After a Slow Start

Quebec is enlisting companies to help ramp up its Covid-19 vaccination campaign beginning in May, when all people under 60 are expected to become eligible for a jab.

The province, which had the most virus deaths in Canada, is seeking as many as 50 businesses to host vaccination hubs. They’ll need to commit to inoculating 15,000 to 25,000 people over three months, including employees, their families and the surrounding community, Health Minister Christian Dube said.

“Our health network is fragile at the moment,” Dube said at a news conference in a Montreal suburb, at the headquarters of CAE Inc., a simulation technology company that’s participating in the program. “During a war, at some point you need other people who come to take over.”

Quebec, with a population of 8.5 million, has administered about 872,000 doses in the last three months. Like the rest of the country, its rollout was slowed by delivery delays, making Canada a laggard among its Group of Seven peers.

Canada has now approved four vaccines, and the pace is expected to ramp up. Quebec Premier Francois Legault has said that initial doses would be available to all residents who want them by June 24, the province’s national holiday.

To date, the government has operated mass vaccination sites, with pharmacies soon to follow. Company hubs will add a third pillar, which will be most needed in May and June and help bring daily vaccinations to 70,000 or more, according to Dube. Many large companies already have in-house health professionals, who will help the effort, he said.

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