Maimonides residents to put Quebec government on notice over vaccine delay

Residents at Maimonides were among the first to receive a dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine in Quebec. Now residents are fighting to receive their second dose. Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2020. Global News

A Quebec lawyer representing families and residents of the Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Côte Saint-Luc is hoping the government will reverse course over its COVID-19 vaccination plan.

Lawyer Julius Grey told Global News he is writing to the Quebec government asking that residents of the long-term care facility receive their second dose of the coronavirus vaccine as promised.

Residents at Maimonides were among the first in the province to obtain a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine three weeks ago.

They were scheduled to receive their second dose of the vaccine this week but on Monday, residents learned they would have to wait.

Read more: COVID-19 vaccine delayed for Maimonides Geriatric Centre residents in Montreal

The province has decided to redirect those second doses and any vaccine it receives in the next few weeks to as many people as possible.

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Grey calls the move “unjust.”

“It seems to me that once people have been told they were getting two doses, to postpone indefinitely the administration of the second dose is a breach of contract,” Grey said.

Some health experts argue the government is doing the right thing.

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“If we want to actually increase the use of the vaccine and protect as many people as possible, the bang for your buck is with the first dose and if we give twice as many people one dose as opposed to giving people two doses, we’re going to have a much bigger effect on protecting people, keeping them out of the hospital and saving lives,” Dr. Don Shepppard, chair of the McGill University’s microbiology and immunology department, said on Monday.

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While Grey doesn’t pretend to be a medical expert, he argues the manufacturer’s instructions shouldn’t be ignored.

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“Now, in general, I think the idea of not following the instructions of Pfizer and Moderna is very risky,” he said. “I think they should think twice, because those people have carried out trials. They’ve said that two doses are necessary.”

Pfizer, for its part, told Global News on Monday that it can only support the use of the vaccine according to the label indication agreed upon with Health Canada and the data from their vaccine trial, “which is to administer the two vaccine doses 21 days apart.”

“There are no data to demonstrate that protection after the first dose is sustained after 21 days,” said Pfizer spokesperson Christina Antoniou.

Read more: Canada investigating timing of second coronavirus vaccine dose, Tam says

If the government doesn’t change course, Grey said the next step will be to seek an injunction.

“I think the government owes it to those people, who agreed before their change of policy, to administer the second dose,” he said. “They gave their consent on the basis they would get two doses.”

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—With files from Global News’ Phil Carpenter and Gloria Henriquez