• Stuart Benson

‘Light at the end of the tunnel’

Nearly a hundred seniors receive vaccine on first day in Wakefield

There was a palpable sense of optimism at Centre Wakefield La Pêche on March 11 as COVID-19 vaccinations for seniors over the age of 85 began at 10 a.m. that day.

Frédéric Parizeau, assistant director of the vaccination site, described the beginning of the vaccinations as a “light at the end of the tunnel,” not only for himself and his staff, but also for the 96 residents of the Outaouais receiving their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. His face beamed with joy and pride, as he informed The Low Down that each of the residents vaccinated that day had already been scheduled for their second dose on July 2.

It’s the light at the end of the tunnel for Marguerite Seguin, 85, as she received one of the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Centre Wakefield-La Pêche on March 11. Ninety-six residents of the Outaouais were vaccinated on the first day at Centre Wakefield-La Pêche and were registered to receive their second dose on July 2. Stuart Benson photo

The site received 200 doses the following day on March 12, and Parizeau expects that number to slowly increase as the available supply increases. Currently the site is only taking appointments on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but at maximum capacity – hopefully by the end of March, according to Parizeau – it will be able to vaccinate seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“At maximum capacity we will be able to vaccinate around 750 to 1,000 people per day, depending on the number of available vaccines,” Parizeau explained. “Our goal is to vaccinate as quickly as possible; we don't want any doses sitting in the fridge.”

To that goal, if a resident misses their appointment on a given day, their dose won’t be wasted. Parizeau explained that they have a system in place to contact individuals who’ve made later appointment dates and give them the leftover dose to ensure each allotted dose finds its way into someone's arm each day.

When residents arrive at the vaccination site, they will first be screened at the door by a security guard, who will confirm they do not have symptoms and are respecting health and safety precautions, before they enter the community centre’s gym to find a vaccination station.

François-Régis Fréchette, the site's program chief and assistant to the Multidisciplinary and Community Services Directorate of the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais, explained that the vaccination process is a three-step process.

The first step is a medical screening by a registered nurse, who will confirm the recipients identity and conduct a standard evaluation before sending them to the vaccinator, who is sitting on the other side of the station to administer – step two – the dose; the third step is a 15 minute observation period before residents can go on their way.

Fréchette explained that the province had expanded the number of healthcare workers eligible to administer the vaccine, which has made it much easier to staff the site. Beyond the two staff required for each vaccination, the site also needed staff to monitor residents during the 15 minute waiting period. A number of former and retired CISSSO staff were more than happy to answer the call.

“I couldn’t be more proud of my colleagues,” Fréchette said of his staff who had returned from retirement to help vaccinate their neighbours.

As of publishing deadline, seniors over the age of 70 can schedule their vaccination appointment themselves by visiting portal3.clicsante.ca or by calling 1-877-644-4445. Date and time schedules are expanding progressively as doses become available.

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