MONTREAL —
The Quebec government has reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March.
Health minister Christian Dube said at a press conference Tuesday that 350 pharmacies on the island of Montreal will start giving out shots beginning March 15 instead of April 1 as originally planned. The news comes as variants first identified in the U.K. are on the rise in the province, especially in Montreal, the minister said. 
Dube asked the public not to contact pharmacies about appointments until that date. 
COVID-19 vaccinations are open to Quebecers aged 85 and older in outlying regions, while they are open to people as young as 70 in the Montreal area.
Quebec is reporting 588 new cases of COVID-19 today as well as eight more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.
With files from The Canadian Press.