Seven residents of the Maimonides Geriatrics Centre in Côte Saint-Luc who received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine last month have tested positive for the disease.
The long-term care facility broke the news to families in a news letter dated Tuesday.
“The recent COVID positive residents have all received their first dose of the COVID vaccine and were infected within the first 28 days after their first dose,” the letter obtained by Global News read.
“We are working closely with Infection Prevention Control and Public Health to analyze the situation and have shared with them all pertinent information on these cases. They are performing a detailed analysis of the situation, and an action plan will be established.”
Maimonides residents are still waiting to receive their second dose, which was supposed to be administered last week.
But the province decided to change its vaccination strategy and redirect those second doses to others in order to vaccinate as many people as possible.
The home’s family advocacy group initiated legal action against the province in order to force them to fulfil their plan to administer the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine as soon as possible.
“It gives even more reason to make sure that they stay on the timeline and follow the science,” said Joyce Shanks, whose father is a resident at Maimonides but hasn’t caught the disease.
“It’s like they’re playing Russian roulette with lives.”
Shanks said the province should follow vaccination protocols established by the manufacturers, not only for Maimonides residents but for everyone.
The latest recommendations made by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization do not oppose delaying a second shot, but recommend the second does be given within 42 days, which is six weeks.
Quebec’s current plan is to inoculate long-term care residents for the second time 12 weeks after they received their first dose.
“Sure, the delay is a bit different. But still, what we know is the effectiveness of the first dose is high,” said Dr. Nicholas Brousseau, a physician with Quebec’s Public Health Institute. “We don’t know for how long it is effective. But I think the key point is to monitor closely the effectiveness and adapt the strategy if needed.”
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Quebec’s health and social services ministry told Global News that “Public Health continues to have discussions with scientific experts, in order to evaluate and establish an appropriate delay in offering the second dose.”
“Public Health’s decision will be communicated quickly,” they added.
Both Pfizer and Moderna maintain the two doses of their vaccine must be administered at a three-week interval in order to achieve 95-per cent efficacy.
“Science must be followed for the entire vaccination program across the whole province, not just because we signed a consent form,” Shanks said.
“We started talking about our loved ones inside but this is not just about us.”
According to Maimonides, 80 per cent of nursing staff and 84 per cent of residents have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine so far.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Pfizer Canada told Global News in an email “there is no data to demonstrate that protection after the first dose is sustained after 21 days.”
“Pfizer and BioNTech’s Phase 3 study for the COVID-19 vaccine was designed to evaluate the vaccine’s safety and efficacy following a 2-dose schedule, separated by 21 days.”
The company continues to recommend both doses to provide a maximum protection against the disease.