Thousands sign up for first dose of COVID-19 vaccine as Quebec threatens to tax the unvaxxed

More than 7,000 people signed up for their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, amid threats from Quebec officials to tax the unvaccinated.

“Our highest in days,” tweeted Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé, noting that 5,000 appointments were also made on Monday. “This is encouraging.”

Dubé notes that the agreements have been made in all age groups and that 107,000 doses of vaccine were administered on Tuesday alone.

The same day, Quebec’s Prime Minister François Legault announced that the province will impose a “significant” penalty on people who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for non-medical reasons.

Legault called the measure a “contribution to health care,” adding that he is in consultation with his Treasury Secretary and legal advisers to determine how high the fines could be.

The prime minister has already argued that $50 or $100 is “not significant” enough for him.

The tax would apply to all adults in Quebec who refuse to receive their first dose of a vaccine “in the coming weeks.” People with medical exemptions are not subject to the tax.

The unvaccinated “will have to foot a bill because there will be an impact on our health care network and it’s not up to all Quebecers to pay for this,” Legault insisted. “It’s a question of justice because right now these people are putting a very heavy burden on our health care network and I think it’s normal for the majority of the population to ask that there is a consequence.”

Last week, the province announced that Quebecers would also be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to access the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) and Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) stores.

This new measure will come into effect on January 18.

“I hope this will be an extra incentive for some to get their first dose,” said Dubé. “The vaccination passport will be extended to certain non-essential trades in the coming weeks and we will come back with a list after speaking with the industries.”

On Tuesday, 62 more people died from COVID-19.

There are currently 100,448 active cases in Quebec. The number of hospital admissions has risen to 2,742 and the number of ICUs has risen to 255.

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