COVID-19 vaccination campaign begins in Montreal and Quebec

The start of the COVID-19 vaccination operation on Monday raised hopes of a return to normal among residents of the Maimonides Geriatric Center in Côte-Saint-Luc, in the greater Montreal area. A craze that was less felt among the staff, less than 40% of the members volunteered to be among the first to receive the injection.

In the Capitale-Nationale, Gisèle Lévesque, 89, resident of the Saint-Antoine residential and long-term care center (CHSLD), has become the first person in the country to receive the vaccine, confirmed the office of the Quebec minister. of Health, Christian Dubé. The facility where she lives has been battling a COVID-19 outbreak since last week.

The vaccine therefore arrives perhaps too late for the father of Nathalie Auclair, 93, who also lives at the CHSLD Saint-Antoine and who received a positive result Thursday. He was moved to another residence in Quebec City with other patients with COVID-19. “I find it just boring that we were close to the goal, that this center was spared and that at the last minute, there may be residents who will not have this vaccination,” confided Mme Auclair at Duty. However, she wonders if she and her family would have agreed to have her father vaccinated or if they would have preferred to offer both doses to someone with a better quality of life.

As with staff, the vaccine is not compulsory for residents of centers for the elderly. At the CHSLD Saint-Antoine, two people could not be vaccinated on Monday because of constraints related to their health.

On the metropolitan side, Gloria Lallouz, 78, left the CHSLD, coat on her back, with the help of attendants, who pushed her wheelchair. Immediately, the first Montrealer to be vaccinated against COVID-19 captured the attention of the many journalists posted in front of the establishment, stealing the limelight from the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé, in the midst of the press melee.

“This is a great historic day for Quebec. It’s a great marathon we’ve been doing for nine months. We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, ”the Minister was saying.

At her side, the Federal Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu, confessed to having shed a few tears during the small ceremony, where the media were not admitted, during which this first Montreal elder received the vaccine promised by her government. “I cried, too,” added his provincial counterpart, Christian Dubé.

Follow the evolution of COVID-19 in Quebec

A few hours earlier, around 10 a.m., a UPS delivery company truck approached the huge seven-story building surrounded by journalists. On board, two boxes containing a total of 1950 doses of vaccine intended to provide a first injection this week to as many people, residents of the center or employees. On Monday, a few doses were taken out of the freezer keeping the new vaccine at -80 ° C to immunize the very first Montreal patients.

In all, Quebec intends to administer the vaccine to 4,875 people over the next few days, 60% in Quebec and 40% in Montreal. And with subsequent deliveries, the government estimates it will be able to vaccinate more than 50,000 people by January.

“The vaccine will change our lives,” enthusiastically Sherry Katz, whose mother has lived in the CHSLD for four years and who should, she hopes, receive the vaccine as early as Tuesday.

It is a great historic day for Quebec. It’s a great marathon we’ve been doing for nine months. We start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Mme Katz had to be tested several times to be able to visit her mother, and especially had to stop any activity that would put her at risk, in order not to transmit the virus to her. “From the start, I stay at home, I don’t do anything anymore. I’m going outside, but that’s it. “

Same story with Sharron Shinker, who moved close to CHSLD Maimonides to take care of her 96-year-old mother, for whom she is very worried given the recent news of outbreaks. “I am very excited for her. It will give him the chance to spend another winter! “

Voluntary basis

Like his mother, 95% of CHSLD residents agreed to be the first to be vaccinated against COVID-19. On the other hand, less than half of the centre’s employees were eager, according to Francine Dupuis, director general of the Integrated University Health and Social Services Center of the Center-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal.

“Thirty-five to 40%, or 500 employees, said a firm yes [au vaccin]. Others said: “Yes, but not now, we want to wait for a second wave to see how people will react”. […] As we will receive many other vaccines in the following weeks, they can register a little later. “

The fact that many employees do not want to be among the first to be vaccinated does not worry the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé either. “It’s a bit early to put a number. We have always said that we wanted to work on a voluntary basis. I would let several hours go by to see how things go. In addition to residents, all people who come into contact with patients are considered to receive the vaccine as a priority. Employees from other CHSLDs will, for example, be called upon to come and be vaccinated at the CHSLD Maimonides. The government of Quebec is studying a way to offer the vaccine to family caregivers as a second step.

Thirty-five to 40%, or 500 employees, said a firm yes [au vaccin]. Others said:
“Yes, but not now, we want to wait for a second wave to see how people will react”.

This news would be welcome in Quebec. For Manon Couturier, whose 79-year-old mother lives in a CHSLD, the vaccine is a beacon of hope that ends a difficult year. “COVID stole our time because my mother was still seeing her children and grandchildren,” she said. We had great family reunions before COVID and now we can’t do that anymore. So that would be more of a return to normal for everyone. “

Images of the first person vaccinated were provided by the Government of Quebec. Several media asked to attend this event, but Public Health refused, citing the fact that the establishments in question were outbreaks.

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