Walking into a clinic to receive a COVID-19 booster shot can be quite simple for most people.
Some, however, have trouble even getting to the door.
“Like my mom. She’s 77 years old,” said Marcela Wierny, a Town of Mont Royal resident. “She has Parkinson’s, very advanced Parkinson’s, she’s very fragile but also because we don’t live in an adapted building, so there are stairs.”
Wierny noted that since her mother’s mobility is limited, the elderly woman cannot leave her home to receive the third dose of her COVID vaccine.
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According to Wierny, before Christmas he tried to get someone from a community health center (CLSC) to come to his house to give the injection, but they are still waiting.
“We live with my children, school-age children,” he noted, “and they are supposed to go to school very soon.”
She is afraid that children might catch the virus at school and pass it on to their vulnerable grandmother.
Advocates for the elderly say that despite government efforts, many people over the age of 60 do not receive their booster shots.
“There are a lot of older adults in Montreal who have no one to help them,” said Anne Mackay, program manager for the Eva Marsden Center for Social Justice and Aging.
Seniors became eligible for boosters in mid-November.
Mackay says he has observed a number of other barriers to older people accessing injections. One is that some are unable to go online to make an appointment, either because they do not know how to use the Internet or because they do not have the means to access it.
Others, he said, have trouble even using the phone because of hearing or language difficulties.
“There are so many older people that I talk to on a daily basis that they are confused, extremely scared, alone,” he said.
With the rapid spread of the Omicron variant affecting workers in all industries, it’s no surprise that Wierny still hasn’t gotten a call from the clinic.
“The CLSC is overwhelmed,” he said, referring to all those clinics on the island. “As we know, everyone is sick.”
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Some experts like Jade Se, clinical project manager for the Telehealth Intervention Program for Isolated Older Adults at Jewish General Hospital, want major changes in the way older people are cared for to make sure problems like this are stopped.
“It’s really difficult because the same problems keep coming up and the same people who have been left behind are continually left behind,” he told Global News.
Health Minister Christian Dubé said Tuesday that his department is looking for ways to make it easier for older people to receive their vaccinations.
“One of them is to make it easier for people to go to [vaccination clinics] walk-ins after certain hours, “he said
Meanwhile, advocates like Mackay emphasize that neighbors should help out when they can.
“Please, if you see an older person, ask him if he needs help,” he stressed.
“People need to be people again.”
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