The administration of vaccines to the elderly in CHSLDs in Quebec promises to be particularly complex given the strict conditions imposed by Pfizer for the management of its vaccine against COVID-19.
The vaccination operation will begin next week in two CHSLDs in the province, namely the Saint-Antoine accommodation center, in Quebec City, and the Maimonides geriatric hospital center, in the west of the island of Montreal.
The CEO of the CIUSSS du Center-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, Francine Dupuis, confirms that her team is ready to receive and administer the first doses to residents.
“The vaccine box will arrive on site, we have met all the conditions required by [Pfizer] and we will vaccinate residents who are [au Centre hospitalier gériatrique Maimonides] as well as their carers ”, explains Mme Dupuis.
This “pilot project” should proceed fairly smoothly given the low quantity of doses delivered, believes the CEO. However, Quebec will face a dilemma when the province relies on a larger supply, she warns.
“The problem will arise later, when the Quebec government will receive tens of thousands of doses. If we maintain priority for institutionalized elderly people, they are not all in the same establishment, that is quite obvious. We will have to find passageways, ”she notes.
This is because the boxes in which Pfizer’s vaccines are transported cannot be moved from one health facility to another, she explains.
“The vaccine will have to move or the person will have to move. It’s not complicated, it’s one or the other. “
However, if the Pfizer boxes cannot be moved, residents in CHSLDs cannot be either.
“We cannot imagine that we are going to take all the elderly from CHSLDs in the middle of winter to get them vaccinated. There are surely other solutions ”, insists Mme Dupuis, who notes that the government of Quebec has given no indication in this direction.
The order could be revised
The Chief Executive Officer of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Dr.re Theresa Tam, warned Tuesday that the first doses may be offered only to people able to travel to previously identified vaccination sites, while Pfizer assesses the possibility of moving the boxes of vaccines.
This means that the priority clientele of residents in CHSLDs could, according to this scenario, have to wait their turn.
In Quebec City, we do not rule out adapting the order of priority of clienteles once the first 4000 doses have been delivered to the two CHSLDs already identified.
“For subsequent doses, we have already announced that 20 vaccination sites have already been determined across all of Quebec, and some are directly within CHSLDs. Now, the order of prioritization of the Quebec Immunization Committee could be adapted according to the logistical constraints imposed by the supplier Pfizer, ”responded the office of Minister of Health, Christian Dubé.
The doses available in CHSLDs could then be administered to health personnel able to travel to receive the vaccine, in addition to residents of these establishments.
Quebec at the same time announced that Pfizer will be able to deliver enough doses to Quebec in time for a second injection, so that 57,000 Quebecers could be vaccinated by January, rather than the 28,000 announced Monday by Minister Dubé.