With a delay in shipments of Pfizer vaccines, Quebec is bracing for a slow down in its COVID-19 vaccination rollout plan for private seniors’ residences (RPAs), which are part of the province’s next phase of priority inoculations.
A spokesperson for Health Minister Christian Dubé told Global News in a statement Monday that the province’s “director of immunization is working to review the schedule.” So far, about 9,000 out of 140,000 residents in those RPAs have been vaccinated.
“Due to the large reduction in Pfizer doses that we will receive over the next two weeks, we have had to review the vaccination schedule, particularly for RPAs,” Marjaurie Côté-Boileau wrote.
Quebec has prioritized inoculating residents in long-term care homes, which were particularly hard hit during the first wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic, as well as health-care workers on the front lines of the crisis. The campaign began in December.
Under the plan, people living in private seniors’ residences across the province are next in line to receive a vaccine.
Last week, the government announced changes to its vaccination campaign due to the postponement in shipments from Pfizer while the company works on boosting its manufacturing capacity.
Canadian provinces have been preparing for the slowdown. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the delay is only temporary and that Canada is expected to receive four million doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of March.
As a result, Quebec adjusted its targets to provide 225,000 doses by Feb. 8 instead of 250,000 but said it will maintain its plan to deliver booster shots within 90 days of the first injection.
On Monday, Côté-Boileau said Quebec is prepared to administer more doses but it comes down to a question of supply.
“Let’s be realistic: our vaccination momentum will be slowed down this week,” she said. “We need more vaccines, Quebec is ready.”
Dr. Jose Morais, head of geriatrics at the Jewish General Hospital and the McGill University Health Centre, hopes that the rate will pick up after Pfizer resumes shipments.
“I just hope that after that, indeed, they can provide more vaccines at a greater quantity, you know? More rapidly,” he said.
To date, the province says more than 220,000 doses of vaccine had been administered as of Monday. It doled out 1,960 coronavirus vaccines Sunday, citing a drop in administered doses due to the expected slowdown.
‘They should have been vaccinated at the same time’
The next phase of the rollout can’t come soon enough for Fulford Residence in downtown Montreal. The centre — which houses elderly women — is dealing with an outbreak.
Director Marie-France Lacoste said 26 of 29 residents have contracted COVID-19 and there has been one confirmed death related to the health crisis.
More than 30 of the 46 staff members have also tested positive for the virus, she added.
“It’s easy to say that now but they should have been vaccinated at the same time as CHSLD people,” she said.
Lacoste says she would like to see the city’s public health department come in and begin vaccinations. Fulford Residence is a Level 4 residence, which means its clientele is semi-autonomous but require care.
“I would recommend that residence Level 4 should be vaccinated first,” she said.
— With files from Global News’ Phil Carpenter and The Canadian PressView link »