Walking into a clinic to get a COVID-19 booster shot might be simple enough for most people.
Some, however, have trouble even making it to the door.
“Like my mom. She’s 77 years old,” said Town of Mont Royal resident Marcela Wierny. “She has Parkinson’s, very advanced Parkinson’s, she’s very frail but also because we don’t live in an adapted building, so there are stairs.”
Wierny pointed out that since her mom’s mobility is limited, the elder can’t leave their home to get the third dose of her COVID vaccine.
According Wierny, she tried before Christmas to have someone from a community health centre (CLSC) go to their home to administer the shot, but they’re still waiting.
“We live with my kids, school-age kids,” she pointed out, “and they’re supposed to go to school very soon.”
She’s afraid the kids could catch the virus at school and pass it on to their vulnerable grandmother.
Seniors advocates say despite the government’s efforts, many people over 60 are not getting their booster shots.
“In Montreal there’s a tremendous amount of seniors who don’t have anyone to help them,” said Anne Mackay, programme manager at the Eva Marsden Center for Social Justice and Ageing.
Seniors became eligible for boosters in mid-November.
Mackay says she has observed a number of other barriers to seniors accessing the shots. One is that some aren’t able to go online to make an appointment, either because they don’t know how to use the internet or they don’t have the means to access it.
Others, she said, have problems even using the phone because of hearing or language challenges.
“There are so many seniors that I speak to on a daily basis that are confused, extremely frightened, alone,” she noted.
With the rapid spread of the Omicron variant affecting workers in all sectors, she’s not surprised that Wierny did not get a call back yet from the clinic.
“The CLSC is overwhelmed,” she said, referring to all such clinics on the island. “As we know, everybody is sick.”
Some experts like Jade Se, clinical project manager for the Telehealth Intervention Program for Isolated Older Adults at the Jewish General Hospital, want major changes in how seniors are cared for to make sure problems like this stop.
“It’s really difficult because the same problems keep coming up and the same people who’ve been left behind continuously are left behind,” she told Global News.
Health Minister Christian Dubé said Tuesday that his department is looking at ways to make it easier for seniors to get their shots.
In the meantime, advocates like Mackay stress that neighbours need to help out when they can.
“Please, if you see an elderly person, ask them if they need help,” she stressed.
“People need to be people again.”