Montreal’s Société de transport de Montréal (STM) buses are on the move.
Special, dedicated shuttles are running along dedicated lines to bring people to COVID-19 vaccination clinics in districts where rates are well below the Quebec average.
Officials are hoping to increase the inoculation levels against COVID-19 in areas like Saint-Léonard and Montréal-Nord, where the vaccination levels are below 75 per cent (according to the latest data) while on average, 82 per cent of the Quebec population is considered adequately vaccinated.
The shuttle buses run free of charge and take people to clinics in Saint-Léonard, Montréal-Nord, Ville-Émard and LaSalle. Health-care officials are hoping people with limited mobility and those who may have other appointments will get their first, second or booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We have to keep going to get people to get vaccinated. It’s the key to get out of this pandemic situation,” Jacques Couillard, the assistant to the CEO of CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, said at a press conference.
Daily vaccination rates have dropped below 50,000 the entire month of February. While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on a downward trend, the Omicron variant remains a threat and is the dominant variant of the coronavirus in the province.
“This is really the government, the CIUSSS (centres intégrés universitaires de santé et de services sociaux), the city reaching out for people to get them vaccinated,” Lionel Carmant, the junior health minister, said.
Carmant says the goal is to reach out to the unvaccinated in some Montreal areas where vaccination coverage has remained low.
Mobile clinics to boost coverage have been operating for several months; officials hope the free bus service will be another incentive to encourage people to get the vaccine.
“You just get on that bus and you know you will get to that destination,” Laurence Parent, STM board of directors vice-chairperson, said.
The bus service will run through until Feb. 19 and will be re-evaluated after that time.
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