After a year of living in hiding, anxious, and isolated in the shadow of the pandemic — a ray of light.
Starting the day after this paper’s publication, the vaccination campaign begins in earnest at the local level, with the first inoculations to the general public being administered at the Wakefield community centre. And a giant collective exhale of relief was heard across the Gatineau Hills — yes, it’s really happening.
With this good news, kudos must go out to the Des Collines Health Foundation for its “Be an Angel” initiative — a super idea to provide crucial and much-needed help to the most vulnerable segment of our population. The first rounds of vaccinations rightly prioritize the octogenarians, many of whom will need help not only booking the appointment but finding the means to get to the vaccination site. Everyone who can should pitch in and help get their friends, neighbours and relatives to their appointment for the jab.
Our seniors are going to need the help — especially since Quebec’s vaccination campaign has been confusing and riddled with communication problems from the get-go.
Case in point: my own mother. Last week she – and (hopefully) all the other Gatineau Hills residents aged 80 or over – received her letter in the mail informing her that she is eligible to book her appointment, preferably online, but also by phone.
As her computer had just gone to computer heaven the day before, she put in the call to the 1-877 number on her government-issued letter. She managed to connect to a live human being, but his English was so bad that she had difficulty understanding most of what the man was saying. The back and forth went on for some time — so long, in fact, the provincial employee gave up and hung up on her.
The next day, we used my computer to get her on the Clic Santé website. The site provided clear information in English, but on that day, March 4, well after the campaign to vaccinate 80-year-olds and older had been announced for the Outaouais region, the English web page stated that appointments were only available for those aged 85 and older. A flip to the French web page — it had the accurate age of 80 and up.
The English page was updated later that week, but considering how crucial it is to protect our most vulnerable from this deadly virus, this kind of gaffe is completely unacceptable. Once again, the English minority in this province is treated like an unimportant afterthought, not even worthy of a proofreader.
Indeed, the Des Collines Foundation is providing a hugely important service to our elders and to the population at large as we strive for herd immunity. Not everyone has a family member to help sort out their online vaccination appointments or drive them to an appointment. Take a look around you — can you be an angel to someone in need? If so, it will be the best deed you’ve done all year.
Coordinators from the Seniors’ Roundtable are ready to receive your call at 1-855-662-4637 ext. 244.