City of Montreal using video games to boost youth vaccination rates
By Bob Garcia
Montreal is rolling out a new incentive to encourage eligible tweens and teens to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The city’s department of public health is hosting a small gaming convention on September 11th and 12th. The convention, which will be held at the Palais des congres de Montreal will also be home to a vaccine blitz. Residents of Montreal can also enter a social media contest to win $25,000 in prizes by using the #gamervacciné_e on social media.
Dr. Paul Le Guerrier who is one of the directors of Montreal’s vaccination campaign said, “To date, the population has responded very well to vaccination, except for 12 to 17-year-olds.” He went on to say,” We’ve put a lot of effort into reaching young people, but the video-gaming community is one we haven’t tried to reach directly yet.”
Asked about the skepticism among teens, Le Guerrier responded, “There are multiple reasons; I can’t pinpoint one exactly. There’s hesitation, there’s the fear of side effects, or they’re not sure they need it. When you’re young you feel invincible, immortal. So we need to convince them it’s worth it.”
Video games are particularly popular in Montreal. In part because the city is home to more than 200 video game studios including Ubisoft, Gameloft, and EA. Montreal is now the biggest gaming hub in Canada and the 5th-largest in the world.
Dominique Lebel, who heads the Quebec Video Game Guild said, “In Montreal, we have both sides of gaming. On one side we have gamers, but at the same time we have an important industry with thousands of employees. The idea is to combine the two to convince young people to get vaccinated.”
Effective September 1st, residents of Montreal are required to use the Province of Quebec’s vaccine passport. Anyone who wishes to visit venues such as sports arenas, theatres, bars, restaurants, and amusement parks must present proof of vaccine using a QR code on their smartphone.