Coronavirus Canada Updates: Many Quebec health-care workers will have to wait till April for COVID-19 vaccine

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Some health-care workers who were scheduled to be vaccinated against COVID-19 next week may not be inoculated until April.

Employees at the CIUSSS Centre-Ouest-de-L’Île-de-Montréal were notified on Monday that the Quebec health department is delaying the vaccination of many health-care workers until April.

No reason for the delay was given.

The new directives mean that the majority of staff working in rehabilitation centres for physical or intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, as well as the majority of employees in CLSCs and in Groupe de Médecine Familiale (GMFs) will not be vaccinated for at least another six weeks.

The human resource department will revise its vaccination list for health-care workers based on the number of doses received.

“We know this news is disappointing,” employees were told in an email.

“We wish take this opportunity to thank you for your professionalism and the care you provide day in and day out.”

Quebec will receive 91,260 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week. Most of the doses will be given to some of the 136,000 seniors who live in private seniors’ residences across the province.

Quebec has not said when it will begin vaccinating the next group on the priority list — seniors 80 and over who live in the community.

The executive director of an organization that provides support services to isolated seniors in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce said he’s still waiting to hear from his contacts at the CLSC Benny Farm to discuss the vaccination rollout.

“We are very concerned. We’re waiting for any type of instruction about how it’s going to work and how we are going to get our very isolated seniors there safely,” said Gerry Lafferty, who runs the New Hope Senior Citizen’s Centre.

“We are telling seniors to stay home because it’s too dangerous to go out and then we are going to tell them to make an appointment for a vaccine and go there,” he said. “How are they going to get there — by public transit or a taxi? It’s all a grey area right now.”

Many anglophone seniors in Montreal are isolated because their families have left Quebec and have not been able to visit since the pandemic began last year.

The majority of New Hope’s 325 members want the vaccine ASAP, Lafferty said.

“If they have five or 10 years of their lives left, they want to get back to living the way they were before,” he said. “They want to see their grandchildren and do things on their own.”

To ensure that no senior falls through the cracks, he said the health department should notify seniors about the vaccination plan through emails, door-to-door mail campaigns, along with ads on English radio, television and in newspapers.

“Seniors often need reminders,” he said. “This is really important.”

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