Montreal

Older caregivers of CHSLD residents now part of first group to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Caregivers over the age of 70 who visit a CHSLD resident at least three times a week will be among the first to be vaccinated.

Caregivers must be over 70 years old and visit residents at least 3 times a week

Residents of Quebec's long-term care homes are among the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Now, some of their caregivers are being added to that group. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Some caregivers of those living in Quebec's long-term care homes will be among the first in the province to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Radio-Canada has learned that caregivers over the age of 70 who visit a CHSLD resident at least three times a week now are in the highest priority group to be vaccinated.

To qualify for early vaccination, the caregiver must also get authorization from the residence's manager. Only one caregiver per resident is eligible.

Vaccination of CHSLD residents and health-care workers has already started in the province, and 21 more centres are opening Monday.

Once the high-priority cohort is vaccinated, residents of private seniors' homes and those living in isolated communities will be next.

The province has been pressured by caregivers' groups to be made a priority for vaccination. Last week, Collectif Action COVID, made up of professionals and other associations across Quebec, published an open letter calling on the government to ensure those caring for Quebec's most vulnerable to get early access to the vaccine.

In the first wave of infections, CHSLDs were the site of most of Quebec's deaths related to COVID-19.

A spokesperson for Marguerite Blais, Quebec's minister responsible for seniors, said the decision was made by the Comité d'immunisation du Québec.

"This is a recommendation that we can implement in the short term, considering that the whole process relies on the number of doses that we receive," said Nicky Cayer.

The Regroupement des aidants naturels du Québec (RANQ) said it would have preferred if all caregivers were put into the priority group, but director-general Mélanie Perroux acknowledges that there is currently a limited supply.

The province aims to have 57,000 people receive the first dose of the vaccine by early January. About 4,700 doses have been administered since last Monday.

Based on a report by Radio-Canada's Thomas Gerbet

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