After West Island senior says she's 'fallen through the cracks,' firefighter takes her to vaccine clinic

The Quebec government's COVID-19 vaccine campaign seems to know no limits as thousands get the jab every day. But one West Island woman, despite being in a highly vulnerable age group, says getting even her first dose was challenging.

Home vaccination offered to some residents, but Lorna Neufeld felt ignored

Lorna Neufeld lives in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que., and arthritis in her knees limits her mobility. With no one to take her to a clinic, she says the regional health authority should be doing more to ensure people like her get vaccinated. (Jennifer Yoon/CBC)

Since this story was published, a few people have stepped forward to help and on Friday, a Montreal firefighter got Lorna Neufeld to a clinic where she received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

"We hear so much bad news these days. When something like this happens to an individual such as me and the community rallies around and helps you, it just is such a good news story," she said.

The original story is below.

The Quebec government's COVID-19 vaccine campaign seems to know no limits as thousands get the jab every day, but one woman in Montreal's West Island, despite being in a highly vulnerable age group, has yet to receive a single dose.

And it's not like she hasn't tried.

"I feel I've been totally ignored. 'Go away. Don't bother me' is the response I get with all these telephone calls," said Lorna Neufeld.

"And I'm not kidding, I must have phoned 30, 40, 50 times."

Neufeld is 79. She has arthritis in both knees and can't walk. She has been asking local health authorities for help getting vaccinated since May, but she said nobody is coming to transport her to a vaccination clinic, or even easier, deliver a dose to her door.

Neufeld, who lives in the on-island suburb of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que., says she doesn't have anybody to take her to a vaccination site.

"I thought the government is offering, in Quebec, that anybody who wants a vaccination would be able to get it," said Neufeld.

"Well, I'm one who has fallen through the cracks."

CIUSSS offers home service

Neufeld is among the 11 per cent of people aged 70 and up in the West Island who are not adequately vaccinated.

In a statement, the CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal said the health agency cannot discuss individual cases, but it is offering home vaccination services to qualifying patients.

"We offer home vaccination only to people who are unable to travel. There is a criteria that is evaluated by our home support teams," said spokesperson Hélène Bergeron-Gamache in an email.

At the start of the vaccination campaign, the CIUSSS contacted patients who receive home-support services to validate their ability to travel to a vaccination site or to offer them a vaccine at home when necessary, she said.

Beyond that, she said community partners are ready to provide transport.

Community organizations there to help

Vanessa Herrick, executive director of Seniors Action Quebec, said Neufeld could and should reach out to local organizations for help.

"Even if someone's at home, they're still exposed to delivery people, to health-care workers who are helping them ," said Harrick. 

"They're often even more vulnerable. I would say they're a pretty high priority."

But Neufeld says the CIUSSS should be the one ensuring she gets vaccinated.

"I'm a stubborn old lady," she said. "What else can I say?"

Based on a report by CBC's Jennifer Yoon


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