Nathan Freedland is counting down the days until he gets vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I’m almost in tears, I’m so happy I’m gonna get this vaccine,” he smiled.
He’s an emergency room nurse at the Lakeshore General Hospital in Pointe Claire and is among health-care workers there who are now getting the COVID-19 vaccine for the first time.
Freedland is scheduled to get his on Saturday. He thinks critical care staff should have been among the first to be inoculated.
“Critical care. If we don’t have the staff, people die,” stressed Freedland.
While he agrees the vaccine rollout has been less than ideal, he feels the Quebec health ministry made the right call by waiting before giving second doses of the vaccine to people who got the shot last month, instead giving them as first injections to others.
“I really think the government is making the right choice here to get the vaccine out to the primary guys in critical care right away, so we can save lives,” he told Global News.
But anger over the government’s reversal could thwart the chances of Freedland and other hospital staff from getting the vaccines yet. A family support group at the Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Côte Saint-Luc is taking legal action against the government over changes to the way the vaccinations are being handled, citing breach of contract.
“The government owes to those people who agreed before their change of policy, to administer the second dose,” explained lawyer Julius Grey, who is representing the group.
The families say they were promised a booster shot within three weeks, as per Pfizer’s instructions.
“I think we should at the very least respect the prescribed protocols that Pfizer has set forth,” said Dida Berku, whose mother lives at Maimonides.
Through a legal letter, the group has given the government until Friday to begin giving those injections. Otherwise, they say they’ll seek an injunction.
Freedland said those who got the first shots in December are lucky.
“Be thankful you got the first dose,” he said. “You’ve got some immunity. Be thankful. It’s better than nothing.”
Berku said the situation could have been avoided.
“Everyone should get vaccinated properly according to the prescribed protocol,” she pointed out. “That’s the solution and it’s possible to do if they would just get organized.”
Nancy Levasseaur, who works at a COVID-19 test clinic, agrees the government is managing the rollout poorly, saying she was denied the vaccine Wednesday morning after securing an appointment get it.
She said she sides with the Maimonides group about getting the booster shot as soon as possible, and blamed the government for the kerfuffle.
“Why is it so slow here?” she wondered. “Why aren’t they just getting everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible?”
In an email to Global News the health ministry said, for now, it plans to administer second doses only in the spring.