Montreal

All COVID-19 patients in Montreal and Laval ICUs not fully vaccinated

Roughly 60 per cent of Canadians are now fully vaccinated, and research continues to show leading vaccines offer high levels of protection from serious illness, even against the fast-spreading delta variant.

Doctor says people are refusing vaccinations 'for all kinds of reasons, each one as bad as the next'

The head of Sacré-Coeur hospital's intensive care unit says patients are increasingly younger, often in their 40s, because most of the older population is fully vaccinated. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Of the 11 intensive care patients in Montreal and Laval with COVID-19, none were adequately vaccinated against the potentially fatal disease, according to public health officials.

"People who are in intensive care, it means their life is in danger," said Jean Nicolas Aubé, a spokesperson for Montreal public health.

COVID-19 numbers are rising again in Quebec, with 426 new cases reported Friday, and as the fourth wave rolls in, specialists like Dr. Patrick Bellemare are begging people to get vaccinated.

"To see that people are still disconnected from reality and believe that this virus is the result of a conspiracy, it is beyond comprehension," he said.

Bellemare is a pulmonologist who heads the intensive care unit at Montreal's Sacré-Coeur hospital, where staff have been treating COVID-19 patients since the early days of the pandemic. 

Nowadays, he said, there are unvaccinated families gathering like in pre-pandemic days, with everybody refusing inoculation "for all kinds of reasons, each one as bad as the next."

Most intensive care patients infected with COVID-19 regret their decision to refuse the vaccine, said Bellemare. 

"These people who have complications and breathing difficulties see in a very real way the consequences on their health for not getting vaccinated," he said.

ICU patients increasingly younger

Some are scared of the vaccine, but what's being distributed in Quebec today is safer than others used to combat viruses throughout history, Bellemare said.

He said intensive care patients are younger than ever, often in their 40s, because most of the older population is fully vaccinated.

He has heard stories of people gathering despite one of them being sick, thinking COVID-19 is just a cold. One 42-year-old woman urgently got vaccinated after a risky contact, he recounted, but she ended up on a ventilator regardless.

Getting vaccinated after being contaminated is totally ineffective, said Bellemare.

Roughly 60 per cent of Canadians are now fully vaccinated, and research continues to show leading vaccines offer high levels of protection from serious illness, even against the fast-spreading delta variant.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports more than 166 million people have been fully vaccinated.

A small portion of those vaccinated Americans, roughly 8,000, were either hospitalized or died from COVID-19, the agency says on its website. The majority of those serious breakthrough cases, 5,928, were 65 or older.

64% of new Quebec cases not fully vaccinated

Quebec public health is reporting, as of Aug. 7, there were 5,575 new cases over a period of eight weeks. A total of 64 per cent of patients were not vaccinated or had received a single dose within 14 days — the recommended time before the dose takes effect.

Public health says 27 per cent had had one dose in the last 14 days or more. Nine per cent were seven days or more past their second dose.

As for the 179 hospitalizations in the eight weeks prior to Aug. 7, 122 were not vaccinated or had only a single dose within 14 days.

Others were partially vaccinated, with 11 per cent of those hospitalized having had a second dose seven days or more before they got sick.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said in Tweet Friday that more people are getting their first vaccine dose now that the vaccine passport is set to launch  Sept. 1 — allowing only fully vaccinated people to access non-essential services such as gyms and restaurants.

Dubé said a steadily increasing number of people got their first doses in the last three days, for a total of 26,000.

with files from Radio-Canada

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