Maimonides set to gain access to some of Quebec’s first COVID-19 vaccines

The Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Montreal will be one of the first long-term care residences in Quebec to get access to a novel coronavirus vaccine.

Residents and families were informed by the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, the regional health authority that oversees the Côte Saint-Luc centre, in a letter.

The note, which was obtained by Global News, says a “simulation exercise” will take place this week with plans for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be administered next week.

“We are very fortunate to have been chosen since vaccines are the most effective way to save lives and protect our most vulnerable loved ones,” wrote Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, president and CEO of the regional health authority.

“This vaccine will be instrumental in eliminating COVID-19 from our own long-term care centre and, ultimately, from society as a whole.”

READ MORE:Quebec unveils COVID-19 priority vaccination plan

Quebec unveiled its vaccine rollout plans Monday, saying that pending Health Canada approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, vaccination could start as early as next week.

The government’s plan is to first vaccinate vulnerable Quebecers. Health Minister Christian Dubé explained the first doses will be delivered to two long-term care facilities (CHSLDs) — one in Quebec City and the other in Montreal.

Maimonides has been hard hit by the second wave of the pandemic in recent weeks. In late November, 20 residents were transferred to Montreal hospitals after the virus took hold and the health authority closed a hot zone to contain the spread.

The letter to Maimonides residents says “a substantial team of experts from the government, our CIUSSS and Maimonides is already working on the strategy, logistics and readiness for this significant program.”

READ MORE: Quebec’s COVID-19 surge puts pressure on hospitals as some experts call for temporary lockdown

Rosenberg wrote the vaccine will be administered in two doses, with the second dose coming three weeks after the first.

In the meantime, other public health measures will remain in place at the long-term care centre to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We would like to emphasize that even after vaccination begins, all of the current precautionary measures — wearing personal protection equipment, physical distancing, testing, hand hygiene and limited access to our facility — will remain in effect,” Rosenberg wrote.

A town hall will also be held this week to answer questions, but the letter noted the vaccine has already been approved in other countries following “many months of a rigorous and detailed scientific review of all of the available data.”

“Many of you are probably wondering whether this COVID-19 vaccine is safe. The answer is an unqualified ‘Yes,’” Rosenberg wrote.

Click to play video 'Growing outbreaks in Montreal-area long-term care facilities' 2:34 Growing outbreaks in Montreal-area long-term care facilities

Growing outbreaks in Montreal-area long-term care facilities

With files from Global News’ Annabelle Olivier and The Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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