Quebecers over 55 lining up for AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine

“I’m here to stay alive. I’ll take my chances and keep myself safe."

The Montreal Gazette 3 minute read April 8, 2021

Quebecers lined up outside vaccine centres early Thursday morning as the province opened up vaccination to people 55 and older who want the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Dozens of people lined up outside the Bill-Durnan Arena in Côte-des-Neiges Thursday morning, one of seven sites across Montreal taking walk-ins.

“I’d rather not have AstraZeneca but I have no choice,” said Gilla Geiger, 58. “I’m ready to be done — to move on with my life.”

Despite concerns, for Geiger, the benefits of being vaccinated far outweigh any risks.

“It’s the first day of the rest of my life,” she said.

The lineup moved quickly — by 8:30 a.m., everyone was inside the site.

“I’m here to stay alive,” said David Moore.

“I’ll take my chances and keep myself safe and all my family members and loved ones, and our community safer too.”

Health Minister Christian Dubé visited the line-up at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Thursday morning.

“I have witnessed for myself the success of the first day of walk-in vaccinations for AstraZeneca,” he wrote on Twitter. “Thank you to Quebecers for having answered the call.”

In Quebec City, the public-health department said the two clinics offering the AstraZeneca vaccine were fully booked before they opened at 8 a.m. The department told people who didn’t get a spot today to try again on Friday.

Canada suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people 55 and under because of a possible link to blood clots. On Wednesday the European and British medicine regulators said they had found possible links between the vaccine and very rare cases of brain blood clots. Several countries have restricted use of the vaccine in certain age groups: in Britain, other vaccines will be offered to people under the age of 30, while in Germany people under 60 will not get the AstraZeneca vaccine.

In Quebec, people over 55 who want the shot can go to walk-in clinics at vaccination centres across the province between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. until Sunday to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. After Sunday they will have to book an appointment at or by telephone at 1-877-644-4545.

This story will be updated.

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