If you haven’t been able to get those free rapid COVID-19 tests that are being distributed in pharmacies yet, this week may be your chance.

Quebec will ship millions of antigen tests to the entire province starting Tuesday.

More than 200 boxes containing five rapid tests each arrived at Emilie Antoun’s Familiprix location in Plateau-Mont-Royal on Monday. They are just a fraction of the 3 million tests that will be rolled out in Quebec pharmacies this week.

“I would be surprised if we had any at the end of the day,” Antoun told Global News.

The federal government will ship 30 million antigen tests to Quebec this month, many of which will go to elementary schools and day care centers. Anyone over the age of 14 is eligible to pick up a box of five at a pharmacy every 30 days.

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“I was hoping there would be a line today, but I just walked by and there was no one. I am so grateful,” said Julieanne Risler, a mother who had collected rapid tests for her 15- and 17-year-old sons.

During the first mass distribution of free antigen tests in Quebec before Christmas, there were long lines, including at Antoun’s pharmacy.

But when it opened at 10am on Tuesday morning, to Antoun’s surprise, no one was waiting.

“I think a lot of the people who were really itching to get a box got it, so now there are people who are like, ‘Oh, okay, you know what? Let me go see if they have,’” he said.

“He’s a little less manic than he was in the beginning.”

Antoun said that the fact that the government had implemented the tests just a few days before Christmas increased the stress on the population and the intensity of the demand during the first round. He wished the government had sent the tests to pharmacies weeks before they did.

Benoit Morin of the Association Québécoise des Pharmaciens Propriétaires said he had not heard of large lines at any pharmacy on Tuesday, but that the demand for tests remains high.

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He said that many pharmacies did not announce the fact that they had received a new shipment of rapid tests because they are still fulfilling previous reservations and waiting lists.

“I think the demand is still strong because there is no way you can get a PCR test right now and COVID is very strong,” he said.

Morin says that online reservations, either at Clic Sante or on pharmacy websites, will probably not be operational until the end of this week.

“The tests disappear very quickly if you have 300 people on your waiting list, then you don’t have boxes for Clic Sante or your website,” Morin explained.

With three million tests arriving at Quebec pharmacies each week in January, Morin believes they will become easier to find.

“Next week, I think everything will be much more fluid,” he said.

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© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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