Quebec officials set to unveil details of COVID-19 vaccination passport system

With case numbers on the rise and facing the threat of a fourth wave, Quebec’s health minister is expected to reveal some details about how the province’s COVID-19 vaccine rolllout is going to work.

Health Minister Christian Dubé will hold a news conference today at 1 p.m. ET alongside two public health officials — Dr. Yves Jalbert, a strategic medical advisor, and Caroline Roy, an adviser on matters related to the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

Premier François Legault will not attend.

Last Thursday, following a surge in COVID-19 cases, Legault announced that Quebecers would soon need to show proof of vaccination to be able to access non-essential services, such as restaurant, gyms and bars.

He said the system will help the province avoid widespread closures of services and establishments that has marked its pandemic response to date.

“People who have made the effort to get their two doses must be able to live a somewhat normal life,” Legault said during a media briefing.

‘A useful tool’

Dr. Gaston De Serres, a medical epidemiologist with the province’s public health institute, believes a vaccination passport system would fare well at encouraging adults aged 20 to 39 to get vaccination. Vaccine bookings already shot up after Legault’s announcement last week.

“We need to improve the vaccine coverage in these age groups which, at the present time, is clearly insufficient,” De Serres said, pointing to the group’s vaccination rate sitting under the province’s 75 per cent benchmark. He says this age group makes up about 50 per cent of the province’s new cases.

“So the vaccine passport in this regard is certainly a useful tool to be an incentive for people to be vaccinated.”

Quebec’s civil liberties union, la Ligue des droits et libertés (LDL), though, is taking issue with the vaccine passport system, saying there has not been any time for a proper public debate and citing concerns about data security.

“One thing that bothers us right now is that the vaccine passport is being presented as if it were some kind of miracle solution,” said coordinator of the LDL Catherine Descoteaux, who wants to avoid “creating a false sense of security in the population” when herd immunity has not yet been achieved in Quebec.

Quebec will be the first Canadian province to require two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to access certain services, though Manitoba and Prince Edward Island have similar measures.