“We continue to offer free trials for at-risk customers.” All the pharmacists interviewed by Le Soleil on Tuesday had the same speech. Citizens who want to get a screening test must pay $42, with some exceptions.
To receive a free pharmacy test, a citizen must be considered “at high risk of developing complications”. According to the website of the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS), this includes adults with immunosuppression, people aged 60 and over, pregnant women and adults with chronic diseases.
The “not adequately protected” (or not vaccinated) people aged 18 and above who have health problems such as diabetes, kidney failure or obesity are also exceptions.
“In fact, a person who has not been vaccinated, depending on the pharmaceutical review, can receive a free test at a pharmacy,” confirmed Marie-Claude Lacasse, spokesperson for the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services.
He explained that unvaccinated people are “more likely to develop complications” when contracting COVID-19.
Free for all at vaccination centers
All Quebecers can, however, get a free test at “points of service”, which used to be called vaccination centers, specified Ms. Lacasse.
“I think people don’t realize that there is free for everything. They go to pharmacies and pay when they can get free tests at local service points. »
– Marie-Claude Lacasse, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Social Services
In the Quebec region, five vaccination and screening centers are still open, including one in Galeries de la Capitale and one in Place Laurier.
The Ministry of Health chose to focus on free distribution in these locations because it noticed a drop in demand last spring, the Ministry’s spokesperson explained.
“We noticed in the spring that people have more reserves at home. There are fewer people who can get it from pharmacies,” he explained.
Hospitalizations have stabilized
Since the second half of August, the Ministry has observed an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. However, the situation seems to be stabilizing.
“The latest data shows some stabilization in the increase in hospitalizations. It is too early to say whether this stabilization will continue,” said Marie-Claude Lacasse.
During the fall and winter, however, public health expects increased circulation of viruses and respiratory infections.
More and more citizens are looking for another dose of the COVID-19 or flu vaccine. They were invited by Ms. Lacasse will take the opportunity to return some boxes of rapid tests. The Ministry has a lot of stocks, he added.
In contrast, pharmacists contacted by Le Soleil said they do not have many tests in their branches. They also urged citizens to turn to screening centers.