Nearly three months after receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, residents and staff at Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Côte Saint-Luc are set to receive the second dose this week.
Residents at the long-term care home were among the first in the province to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Dec.14. Initially, their second dose had been planned for 21 days after that, but the government opted to delay it in order to inoculate more health-care workers.
"It's something we've been fighting for for months. We're glad it's finally happening," said Joyce Shanks, a member of the Family Advocacy Committee at Maimonides. "It's been a really long road."
The regional health authority is expected to start administering the second doses at Maimonides on Monday.
Shanks, whose father is a resident at the centre, and others on the committee threatened legal action against the government back in January, because it delayed the second dose.
Ultimately, the committee decided against suing, but Shanks says the families are still frustrated by the government's decision.
"They ignored us, they completely ignored us," said Shanks. "As much as we wanted to pursue them legally, we were told by our lawyers that it would take tens of thousands of dollars and it would take months. We needed something to happen quickly — it didn't make sense to pursue a lawsuit."
Now, Shanks just hopes this second dose of the vaccine will help restore a sense of normalcy for her father and others at the home.
"There have been no celebrations, no music, no entertainment, no activities," said Shanks. "We're praying that the vaccine rollout across the country allows people to move more freely because it's no way to live and it's no way to die either."
Last week, Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended that the maximum interval between the first and second doses of the vaccine be extended to four months.
Francine Dupuis, deputy CEO of the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, says the regional health authority will be vaccinating in four-month intervals from now on, but is making an exception for Maimonides residents.
"They had already been cancelled at the beginning of January when they were supposed to get their second dose … so I almost begged the government, 'listen we cannot cancel them twice,'" said Dupuis.
Dupuis said the mass vaccination campaign that got underway last week has been going well so far. She said the regional authority has been vaccinating about 1,800 people per day.