MONTREAL — Quebecers can now obtain a proof of COVID-19 vaccination specifically intended for travel outside the province, the Health Department announced Monday.
Officials said the new proof of vaccination will be accepted in all other provinces, as well as in parts of the United States and some other countries.
The department said the document is different from the province's vaccination passport, which is used to access gyms, restaurants, bars and sporting and entertainment venues in Quebec.
The new proof of vaccination will be available for download from Quebec's COVID-19 website as a PDF, to be used on a mobile device or printed.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Christian Dubé on Sunday night defended last week's decision to delay a vaccine mandate for health-care workers, telling the TV talk show "Tout le monde en parle'' that it was a step sideways not backwards and was needed to avoid an interruption of services.
"We took the right decision, because otherwise, it would have been catastrophic if we would have followed the game plan," Dubé said.
Last week, Quebec postponed by a month its requirement for health-care workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Health-care workers were facing suspension without pay if not fully vaccinated by Oct. 15.
Dubé said that at the deadline, more than 22,000 employees in the province's public health-care system were not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, more than had been expected. Going ahead with the deadline would have put too much pressure on an already fragile system, he said.
"There was no perfect solution, everybody recognized it. We could have done it out of pride, saying that's what we promised," Dubé said when asked whether the decision would affect his credibility.
"The decision was difficult, but I am sleeping better ever since, because I see people continue to get vaccinated."
Dubé said out of more than 300,000 health-care workers, 96 per cent are already vaccinated. He said he believes the remaining workers are not "real anti-vax" but rather people who are afraid for their own health.
"I have empathy for them. Health-care workers should be the first ones to understand the importance of getting vaccinated," Dubé said. "So maybe they haven't understood yet, and it's up to us to continue and communicate."
Quebec reported 410 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, along with five more deaths related to the virus.
In a news release, health officials said hospitalizations remained stable from the previous day at 303, while the number of patients in intensive care climbed by one to 77. There were 5,108 active COVID-19 cases across the province.
The province said it vaccinated 5,043 people on Sunday, for a total of 13,101,548 doses administered. The province's public health institute said 90.2 per cent of Quebecers aged 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 87.2 per cent are considered adequately vaccinated.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Oc. 18, 2021.
Virginie Ann, The Canadian Press