Still Difficult for People with Chronic Illness to Get a Vaccine to Get a COVID-19 Shot in Montreal

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For the last two years, David Gallo, 54, has been fighting cancer. Now in the middle of the pandemic, he is still doing the same. His immune system is weakened and all he wants is to get the COVID-19 vaccine without delay.

Quebec announced that people with serious chronic illness could get a shot from their doctors. However, when Gallo asked his oncology nurse how to get a shot, he was told that the hospital had no means of administering shots. He was instead advised to contact his pharmacy to get a shot.

When he called his pharmacy, Gallo was told that he couldn’t book an appointment with them and could do it online on the government portal. The Clic Sante portal doesn’t allow people under the age of 60 and not working in a high-risk environment to book an appointment even when they have a chronic illness.

Gallo among other people with chronic illness in Quebec is tired of runaround and they want answers. The trouble however seems not to be getting any better. When Gallo contacted the health minister’s office for an explanation, all he got was an email instructing him to consult his pharmacy.

“You can contact your pharmacy to find out if they will be offering vaccination. If they do not offer this service, the Clic-Sante website will allow you to identify which pharmacy near you will offer this service.”

The message that the province is putting out there is quite different from the reality. Gallo says that Quebec wasn’t organized or ready to vaccinate people with chronic illness.

“It’s frustrating because until now, what the government was putting in place seems to be working, opening the groups one at a time. And when it came to Group 8, they just missed the boat.”

Contrary to the email Gallo received, the health ministry had asked people with chronic conditions not to contact the pharmacists. However, the email indicated that pharmacists are already vaccinating Group 8.

When contacted, the regional health authority did not respond to the mixed message Gallo was getting. Annie Charbonneau, the spokesperson of Quest-de-l’lle health district said that all those hospitalized with chronic illness have been vaccinated and that the outpatient clinics will start vaccinating this week.

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