Parc-Extensions only vaccination clinic moved to Outremont
A mass-vaccination center set to open in Parc-Extension was unexpectedly moved to a location in neighbouring Outremont on Mar. 19, worrying many about the effect it will have on vaccine accessibility.
Originally meant to open last Friday at a location on Parc Avenue across from the CLSC, the clinic was the only mass-inoculation site in the Parc-Extension neighbourhood. The area is still seeing some of the highest numbers of new cases in the greater Montreal area.
The new location is now at the Université de Montréal MIL Campus in Outremont, across the footbridge at Acadie Metro. But this has many people upset that some in Parc-Extension won’t have as easy access to the vaccination site.
Parc-Extension has a large population of both low-income seniors and newly-arrived immigrants, whose access to transportation is already limited.
According to a report by CTV News, the CIUSSS Centre-West said the move was a result of a stall in lease negotiations with the owner of the building on Parc Ave.
The initial site was meant to be in a building that is already used by Université de Montréal School of Public Health, but that is not owned by them.
“We were unable to reach an agreement with the landlord,” told CIUSSS spokesperson Barry Morgan to CTV News.
So far, the vaccination campaign of residents had been taking place at the Parc-Extension CLSC.
Difficult for some seniors
But many are worried that this administrative decision will make it more difficult to get to vaccination locations for certain residents, especially for seniors.
Vanessa Viel is the Client Support Lead at the Sarker Hope Foundation, a group that offers services like transportation to disadvantaged residents. She works closely with seniors in the area.
“I think it’s going to be really, really tricky,” said Viel, explaining that “a lot of seniors do not have means of transportation.”
Although the new clinic is only about a 20-minute walk, it is in a new and unfamiliar neighbourhood for many. “A lot of them are too frail to be able to take public transportation,” Viel added.
“It’s not so far away, but it’s pretty far away, considering their circumstances,” stated Viel.
This sudden switch of locations has, therefore, forced community organizations to pick up the slack, said Viel.
“I think it’s it’s going to put a lot of extra work on those who are handling the transportation of the elderly,” stated Viel, highlighting the fact that their resources at her organization were already strained.
“We had several of our drivers test positive for COVID-19,” said Viel, adding that to keep people safe they had to reduce their transportation operations.
Even before that, the organization was already getting a large volume of calls and Viel now worries this may further limit their capacity to help seniors get to the vaccination site.
The provincial vaccination campaign is continuing to run smoothly, with the addition this week of all people ages 60 and up on the island on Montreal now eligible to book their vaccine appointment.
Although this mass-vaccination site was recently moved, Parc-Extension residents can still make an appointment in one of the many participating pharmacies in the area. Over 350 pharmacies have agreed to help with the vaccination campaign in Montreal.
Nonetheless, with only 36,000 doses delivered in some cases, many of these pharmacies will only receive about 100 doses per branch. This has caused some difficulty in making appointments, as many pharmacies are already fully booked.
Viel also stated these appointments were hard to come by and that the online-only booking process for pharmacies was yet another hurdle for seniors.
“I would say the pharmacies are a great help,” said Viel but cautioned that “for the elderly, it’s not the best.”
Nearly 1 million doses
So far, approximately 966,566 first doses have been administered across the province, accounting for approximately 11.5% of the population.
In Montreal, the number of administered doses is currently at 319,916 people. All COVID-19 vaccines are free of charge to anyone who wants one, given they are currently eligible.
The provincial government wants to have all people who are in at-risk segments of the population to be vaccinated by mid-April. They also hope to be able to vaccinate all Quebecers who want a dose by Fête Nationale, on Jun. 24.