Montreal seniors’ advocates foresee problems accessing vaccine sites, making appointments

Click to play video: 'Seniors in Montreal aged 85 and older can start booking vaccination appointments' Seniors in Montreal aged 85 and older can start booking vaccination appointments
WATCH: As of Thursday, people aged 85 and older can start booking their vaccine appointments online or by phone, with shots starting next week.But advocates fear some seniors may fall through the cracks. Amanda Jelowicki has more – Feb 24, 2021

Seniors’ advocates across the Montreal area say they envision logistical issues with seniors making appointments to get their COVID-19 vaccinations, and then accessing vaccination sites.

“There will be quite a few seniors who won’t go out of fear or just the ability to get there on their own,” said Gerry Lafferty of the New Hope Seniors Citizens’ Centre in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.

Lafferty envisions many logistical issues for seniors to access vaccination centres, including for seniors who don’t drive, don’t want to take a bus and suffer from physical mobility issues.

“They have a very justifiable fear of falling and breaking their hips,” he said.

Starting Monday, about 42,000 Montreal seniors 85 and older are eligible to get vaccinated with their first COVID-19 shot. Doctors say it will take about three weeks for the vaccination to offer up to 80 per cent immunity against the disease.

Story continues below advertisement

Eligible seniors can head to one of 15 vaccination centres across the island. They can make appointments online or by phone.

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

Seniors’ advocates worry many will need help simply making appointments. And then many will need lifts to vaccination centres.

“It’s a huge undertaking, and in addition to volunteer teams it will require people looking out for their neighbours,” said Mary Stark of the Contactivity Centre in Westmount.

Westmount Mayor Christina Smith had hoped for a vaccination centre in her community, in Victoria Hall. She says public health instead set up vaccination centres at the nearby Glen Hospital site and the Montreal General Hospital.

Smith says the city will actively help seniors get to their vaccine sites.

“We will do everything we can to make those who can play a role, those who need to get to the site, need to understand how to book their appointment, we will help them,” she said.

Public health says it’s up to individual CIUSS to spearhead vaccine management and to ensure seniors know to make an appointment. Dr. Mylene Drouin, director of the public health department, said local health agencies have lists of vulnerable seniors to contact during heat waves, for example, and health authorities can use those lists to ensure seniors are contacted.

Story continues below advertisement

Drouin admits getting seniors vaccinated requires community help.

“For transportation, we are starting the campaign asking caregivers or family to join the effort,” she said.

Some, though, say that poses challenges, especially for the anglophone community.

“Anglo seniors are much more isolated because their family members live out of province, out of town, out of the country,” said Lafferty. “They don’t have the support that is needed here.”

Public health says if transportation proves an especially difficult issue, it may amend its strategy.

Sponsored content