Quebec’s plan to put a “significant” health tax on unvaccinated people — who account for a large share of COVID-19 hospitalizations — quickly drove a rush of new appointments this week, health officials say.
“It’s encouraging!” said Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé, in a tweet announcing the new gains.
Dubé said the number of new vaccine appointments shot up in the 48 hours around the announcement, reaching what he called a record for several days.
Quebec has reported the most COVID-19 deaths of any Canadian province, with more than 12,000 people losing their lives. With omicron driving new infections, officials recently ordered school closures and a 10 p.m. curfew.
When Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced the plan for a levy on the unvaccinated, he said that only around 10% of Quebec’s population is unvaccinated but that they make up 50% of all intensive care cases.
Health officials also noted that the average cost of a COVID-19 case in hospital is $23,000 Canadian. For intensive care, the cost rises to $50,000.
The premier says he owes it to the vaccinated population Support comes from
“Those who refuse to get their first doses in the coming weeks will have to pay a new health contribution,” Legault said Tuesday. “The majority are asking that there be consequences. … It’s a question of fairness for the 90% of the population that have made some sacrifices. We owe them.”
The health penalty would not apply to people with legitimate medical exemptions, Legault said. He hasn’t given a date for when the penalty will be enacted.
Legault said late Wednesday that Quebec’s schools and colleges are now cleared to reopen on Monday. There are also reports that the curfew will be lifted on the same day.
The tax is just one strategy to boost vaccination rates