Seniors in two lodges in Red Deer, one in Lacombe and another Sylvan Lake, have yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and central Albertans want answers.
Geoff Olson, executive director of Bridges Community Living, said vaccinations by Alberta Health Services at Parkvale and Piper Creek lodges have been scheduled and then cancelled. At Pines Lodge, residents were vaccinated, but not staff.
Vaccinations at Sylvan Lake Lodge, were also cancelled.
“Residents and their families are very, very concerned, especially in our lodge program, because they have been treated as high risk up to this point… and therefore should be at the front of the line, not the back of the line,” Olson said.
“I have a hard time believing we’ve been high risk for a year now, and all of a sudden we’re not a high risk anymore.”
Alberta Health Services acknowledged that many eligible Albertans and their families are eagerly awaiting their COVID-19 vaccine.
“Unfortunately, we have had to reschedule vaccine administration in some lodges and care homes due to inconsistency in vaccine supply. We apologize to anyone whose vaccination has been delayed, and for the uncertainty and frustration these delays may cause. We want to assure you, and your families, you will receive the vaccine,” said AHS in a statement.
Recently the province opened vaccinations up for seniors 75 and older through pharmacies in Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary. On Thursday, Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the government now expects to be able to offer all Alberta 18 and over, a first dose of the vaccine by the end of June.
Olson said it can’t be a supply issue if the province is doing an average of 11,000 COVID-19 shots a day. If it’s a priority issue, why aren’t lodge residents at the top of the list? They range in age from 65 to over 100.
Alberta Health Services said it is working with the operators of seniors lodges and care homes to host vaccinations at their sites in the coming days and weeks. Immunization is being rescheduled for residents at some lodges, including Parkvale Lodge, Revera Ingelwood, and Lacombe Lodge, to occur between Mar. 17 and 23.
“The exact timing of immunizations is subject to the availability of vaccine supply, and is dependent on the coordination with site operators,” AHS said.
AHS said residents living in a lodge, manor, or other private supportive living facility, will be contacted directly through their care team to be immunized onsite. They do not need to book their own appointments; arrangements will be made for them with the site.
Linda Palmer, whose 93-year-old mother lives at Lacombe Lodge, said opening up vaccinations to more people is fantastic, but vaccinations at her mother’s lodge were cancelled this week.
“(The province) has been saying all these lodges have been done and they’re not. It’s frustrating. These people are worried. They’re afraid,” said Palmer, who puts the blame on provincial health officials and not the lodge.
The last time she saw her mother was through a window in October.
She said her mother is doing well, but it’s been pure luck that the lodge has not had a COVID case.
“They have been doing a good job there, but people are allowed to come and go. It’s not like they’re in a locked-in facility,” said Palmer, of Dewinton.