Quebec seniors worry about getting COVID-19 vaccine, complain registering is confusing

Click to play video: 'The unknowns surrounding vaccination stir confusion among Quebec’s elderly' The unknowns surrounding vaccination stir confusion among Quebec’s elderly
WATCH: Quebec’s health department says seniors not living in group homes will start getting vaccinated at the end of February, but many seniors say they're confused about the process. Some are complaining they don't know how to make an appointment or who to contact. As Global’s Amanda Jelowicki reports, advocacy groups say much more clarity is needed – Feb 11, 2021

Senior citizens in Montreal who don’t live in group homes are increasingly worried about the process to register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I think it’s just compound stress and frustration and a clear rollout plan or clear information lines would be incredibly helpful to all members of the public, but especially to seniors,” said Vanessa Herrick of Seniors Action Quebec, a seniors advocacy group.

Christina Soochan suffers from diabetes, her husband from heart disease. They’re anxious to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

They’re totally confused, though, about the process of getting it.

“The only thing this government is worrying about is telling what we are not allowed to do,” Soochan said. “The deployment of the vaccine is a big mystery.”

Eighty-year-old Bill Letteney is online everyday, seeking out any information for how he goes about registering. He says the information is hard to find.

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“I would simply like to point out to the government and the authorities the frustration seniors and others are experiencing right now, desperately wanting to get the vaccine and not knowing when it will be available, how it will be available, and how we go about getting it,” Letteney said in a Skype interview.

Read more: Coronavirus: Quebec ‘needs more vaccines’ for rollout in private seniors’ residences

The health ministry told Global News they hope to begin vaccinating people 80 and over at the end of February/beginning of March, subject to getting vaccines from the federal government.

So far, 272,000 Quebecers have been vaccinated. They are hoping to receive another 91,000 vaccine doses next week, and will prioritize vaccinating people in Montreal.

The department says eventually, people can make an appointment online or by phone.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Quebec premier says situation improved, people must stay ‘very careful’' Coronavirus: Quebec premier says situation improved, people must stay ‘very careful’
Coronavirus: Quebec premier says situation improved, people must stay ‘very careful’ – Feb 9, 2021

An awareness campaign is being planned. A statement from the Health Ministry reads:

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“Communications actions are currently being deployed to reach priority groups (people accommodated in CHSLDs, workers in the health network who are in contact with users, and people from isolated or remote communities). Communications efforts will adapt in the coming weeks as the groups to be vaccinated expand. We are currently working on the strategies to be put in place to reach and convince the target audiences, as well as for the development of a deployment schedule.”

While blaming the federal government for delays in receiving vaccines, Quebec’s health minister admits improvements can be made.

“I think it’s frustrating right now because I know some people are calling and are being told we don’t have a date. yet. Honestly, I apologize for that,” said Health Minister Christian Dube.

Read more: Despite vaccine rollout headaches, feds expect campaign to scale up soon

Meanwhile, groups say any information would be helpful.

“It would be great actually if local CIUSSES could communicate the fact they are working hard on this and they don’t know x y and z yet but that it’s in the works,” said Mary Stark, the executive director of the Contactivity Centre in Westmount.

Bill Letteney fears missing his chance.

“I worry time will pass me by and maybe other people will be notified and I am not,” he said.

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It’s leaving Quebec’s most vulnerable fearing not just the virus, but the process to stop it.

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