Montreal public health reaches out to gamers to boost lagging youth COVID-19 vaccination rates

Healthcare

Montreal public health authorities are trying a new approach to boost lagging vaccination rates among kids and young adults as schools reopen and COVID-19 cases remain on the upswing.

The department is teaming up with Quebec’s video game guild to reach out to gamers across the city in the coming weeks with contests and a vaccination blitz with gifts from the industry.

Dr. Paul Le Guerrier said public health authorities have been at festivals, community events and amusement parks throughout the summer to promote the vaccination campaign. This is another way to get through to young people, he explained.

“We have done a lot of work to reach those kids,” he told reporters Tuesday.

READ MORE: Montreal should expect COVID-19 cases to jump as kids head back to class: public health

A contest will be held where Montrealers between the ages of 12 and 25 who have received at least one dose of the vaccine are asked to use #GamerVacciné_e on social media. They will be entered in a draw to win scholarships totalling $25,000.

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The Palais des congrès will also be the site of a video-game themed vaccination blitz where eligible young people can get their shots. There will be entertainment and gifts for participants as well as companies and workers from the industry on hand for the weekend of Sept. 11.

Dominique Lebel, president of Quebec’s video game guild, said the organization immediately jumped at the chance to help out.

“I’m very happy that we can help with the success of vaccination,” he said.

READ MORE: Quebec ‘will be ready’ to roll out COVID-19 passports this week: health minister

The latest initiative comes as Montreal public health authorities said last week that a little more than 50 per cent of eligible children aged 12 to 17 are vaccinated in the region. Dr. Mylène Drouin, director of the local health department, warned the rate isn’t high enough at a collective level to contain COVID-19 outbreaks.

As a result, the department will be doing the rounds at schools next month to promote vaccination.

The Quebec government also has a lottery contest underway for anyone who gets vaccinated, with cash prizes for adults and scholarships for kids. The grand prize will be drawn later this week.


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