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The Montreal vaccination clinic went blue-white-red for children on Saturday

The city’s public health department has teamed up with the Montreal Canadiens in an effort to increase the rate of vaccination against COVID-19 among children.

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The children who were vaccinated at the Palais des Congrès on Saturday showed more than just protection against COVID-19.

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A collaboration between the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal and the Montreal Canadiens has made it possible to temporarily replace the usually sterile atmosphere of a vaccination clinic with a more festive atmosphere where children dance with mascots and go home with blue-white-red gift bags.

This was an effort to increase vaccination among children between the ages of five and 17, who lag behind most other age groups in Montreal.

“We took the initiative with Groupe CH to organize this event with the aim of attracting children and their families, especially those who are late for their first or second dose,” said Marie-Ève ​​Brunelle, acting director of screening and vaccination at the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal. “To be honest, we don’t think we’re going to get that many first doses – but I’m excited to see the numbers.”

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Recent data from Montreal Public Health shows that so far only 54% of children aged 5-11 have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Only 21% received their second dose. For those aged 12 to 17, the figures are higher, with 78% having received a first dose and 73% a second shot.

Brunelle said public health has done a lot of work to understand where this discrepancy is coming from, and a meeting is scheduled for next week to “give us a portrait of our territory and see what we can do.”

Like others from the city’s public health department, Brunel said many factors could be contributing to the delay – some people may be against vaccination in general, while others may be waiting to see if there are any Side effects.

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“There is also a multicultural reality in Montreal,” says Brunelle. “Parents don’t always understand French or English, while communications at school are generally in French, and in English for the Anglophone network. So it’s very difficult to get information in the spoken language of the parents, and we understand that to enter into a dialogue with someone about vaccine hesitation, you need a good level of language. …O Obviously, we try to approach these parents.

Saturday marked the highest turnout for the 5-11 age group since vaccination began in November, Brunelle said.

“When it started we had a boom, but now people are waiting in schools, and today we have over 200 appointments made, plus we are accepting appointments,” she said. declared. “ She thanks the population, too, this kind of event, with the distribution of small gifts.

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The children received boxed lunches from the Canadiens, bottles of water, makeup to wear during the games and popcorn from the Bell Centre. They could also take pictures with the Canadiens mascot Youppi! and Cosmo, the Laval Rocket mascot, who danced between vaccination stations decorated with blue, white and red balloons.

“Just a little something to remind them that it wasn’t so bad to get vaccinated,” said Patrick Bigras, vice-president of hospitality at Groupe CH, adding that the collaboration with the management of public health is natural for the organization. “It’s a good thing for us, we like to help when we can like it.”

Brunelle pointed out that the young visitors to the clinic were calmer than usual during their vaccinations on Saturday – partly because of the Canadiens event and partly because they had a therapy dog ​​on site.

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“The goal is to attract people with a complementary offer; it also becomes a small family event,” she said. “People are happy. It’s a beautiful Saturday.

Cathy Vachon, mother of two five-year-olds who were getting their second dose, said she chose Saturday because of pet therapy. Although she admitted getting vaccinated was still difficult for one of her children, she said efforts to calm them down were helpful.

“I think it helps for after, so they forget about the game that didn’t go as well,” Vachon said. “Now they’ll just tell me about the mascots and the dog.”

Instead of sitting still during his 15-minute post-vaccination waiting period, eight-year-old Kyle Appleby was taking selfies with Youppi! and Cosmo. When asked which mascot was his favorite, he said “both”.

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