Marcia Carr, 73, who returned to nursing during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic after four years in retirement, poses for a photograph in New Westminster, B.C., on Thursday, January 7, 2021. Carr is among retired and current health-care professionals waiting to be deployed to immunization clinics, mobile units or wherever they're needed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Health-care professionals ready to help but some say vaccine rollout too slow

VANCOUVER — Marcia Carr returned to nursing during the first wave of the pandemic after four years in retirement and now wants to “hit the ground running” to help vaccinate as many people as possible.

“I feel a very strong professional responsibility and accountability that if I’ve got this knowledge and the skills and ability that I need to be part of the solution,” said Carr, 73.

The former clinical nurse specialist now assists nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and social workers integrate virtual care into their practices at a clinic in New Westminster, B.C.

She is also among retired and current health-care professionals waiting to work at immunization clinics, mobile units or wherever they’re needed.

Carr said provinces need to communicate their vaccination plans better so health-care providers aren’t speculating about the reasons for delays.

“The communications channels, I think, need to be opened up far greater,” she said.

“It causes anxiety and frustration, which are normal responses to a situation that is urgent.”

British Columbia’s regulatory colleges of nurses, doctors and pharmacists called on their retired members last month to be relicensed to be placed on the province’s COVID-19 emergency health provider registry.

Some health-care professionals, including in Ontario, say they are frustrated at the slow pace of immunization while vaccines sit unused.

Dr. Naheed Dosani, a palliative care physician who works with seniors and homeless people in Toronto and the Peel region, said Ontario is facing a crisis with a record number of COVID-19 cases and deaths following the holiday season when vaccines were not offered for several days.

“We’re at a state where nearly 70 per cent of the province’s total supply of COVID-19 vaccines is sitting in freezers and not getting into arms of those who need it most,” he said, referring to residents in long-term care homes that are experiencing outbreaks.

“There is an urgency here and I’m hopeful that we will see timelines that are much quicker than what we’ve been seeing.”

So far, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and community health workers have not been used in a way that is efficient because vaccines have mostly been administered in hospitals, even though higher volumes of immunization can be done in community settings, Dosani said.

“Staffing should not be an issue. People are ready to sign up, to volunteer, to work during business hours, after business hours so that every person in this country gets the vaccine that they need.”

Dosani said slower-than-expected inoculation rollouts could also send the wrong message to those who are hesitant about getting vaccinated, including racialized people in essential, low-paying jobs such as personal support workers in care homes.

“When there are inconsistencies in messaging it can impact people’s ability to trust government and trust health care, which ultimately may impact people’s ability to trust the vaccine. It behooves us more than ever to act urgently, to be consistent in our messaging and be accountable to the communities that we serve.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a virtual meeting with the premiers Thursday after saying earlier this week that he wants to work with the provinces and territories because the administration of vaccines has been a challenge in some jurisdictions.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said all long-term-care residents, staff and essential caregivers in pandemic hot spots will be vaccinated by Jan. 21 and immunizations in Indigenous communities will begin later this week.

Dr. Samantha Hill, president of the Ontario Medical Association, said she has asked the government since early December to work quickly with the association, which three weeks ago released a set of recommendations on the province’s vaccination plan.

The recommendations include administering vaccines in schools, mobile vans, arenas, and other large indoor and outdoor spaces. The association also called for the start of vaccination for children under 16 and the use of smartphones to book appointments.

“The (Ontario Medical Association) also understands that this is a rapidly changing situation and we have heard from our physician members who are showing frustrations with uncertainty about when vaccines will be available, or communication of concrete deadlines,” Hill said in a statement.

Ontario’s Health Ministry said work is underway to allow people to help with vaccinations and that details would be provided later.

Dave Deines, president of the Paramedic Association of Canada, said vaccinations are part of the training for its members but he’s concerned that many may not be called on.

“I think paramedics have shown the value they can contribute to fill health-care gaps during the pandemic,” he said. “Hopefully, policy-makers will recognize this and rely on paramedics to play an integral role in the vaccine rollout.”

Deines said community paramedics in B.C. have been authorized to provide vaccinations while advanced care paramedics will administer them in Alberta.

In Ontario, paramedics in different places are providing vaccines including in Ottawa, where they were scheduled to start giving shots to long-term care residents starting Thursday, he said.

His colleagues in Newfoundland and Labrador have not been contacted about providing vaccines for COVID-19, Deines said.

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix said Wednesday that 19 First Nations in rural areas received the Moderna vaccine last week, but there has been a lack of vaccine doses for broader distribution around the province.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Town of Ponoka and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) have ratified a new agreement, averting a strike. (File photo from Facebook)
Alberta gov’t ‘using pandemic as shield to lay off workers,’ says AUPE

The Government of Alberta’s “attacks on workers” is continuing with a new… Continue reading

Rocky Mountain House RCMP, EMS, Search and Rescue, STARS air ambulance and Alstrom Helicopters worked together to rescue a fallen ice climber Friday. (Photo contributed by Rocky Mountain House RCMP)
Rocky Mountain House RCMP help rescue fallen ice climber

Rocky Mountain RCMP helped assist a fallen ice climber Friday afternoon. At… Continue reading

Students Association of Red Deer College president Brittany Lausen says she’s pleased the college is offering students a choice to attend class in-person or remotely. (Red Deer Advocate file photo)
Red Deer College winter term enrolment dips

Enrolment down about six per cent but mix of online and in-person instruction is going over well

Brett Salomons, of Salomons Commercial, and Mark Jones, CEO of the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, in the CACAC's new temporary home. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre’s One Day Challenge returns

Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre has announced its One Day Challenge is… Continue reading

Dwayne Buckle, 40 of Red Deer finished a 1,638-kilometre walk, in honour of his family. The 12-week, 82 day-journey wrapped up in Port Hardy, B.C. on Monday. Facebook photo
Red Deer man completes 1,638 km hike for cancer research

Dwayne Buckle, a Red Deer firefighter returned home Friday after his 12-week journey

A Suncor logo is shown at the company's annual meeting in Calgary, Thursday, May 2, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Body of worker whose bulldozer fell through ice on inactive tailings pond recovered

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — Oilpatch giant Suncor says the body of a… Continue reading

A restaurant manager in Orlando used a sign to secretly ask an 11-year-old boy if he needs help from his family after they were spotted withholding food from him. (Photo courtesy Orlando Police Department)
WATCH: Restaurant manager uses secret note to ‘rescue’ child, says Orlando Police

The manager of an Orlando restaurant is receiving praise from police after… Continue reading

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will cripple struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

VICTORIA — A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Quebec and Ontario, the two provinces hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic,… Continue reading

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police "E" Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. A young snowshoer who set out alone on a rugged mountain trail on Vancouver's north shore Thursday has died. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Snowshoer dies after overnight search on Vancouver-area mountain: RCMP

SQUAMISH, B.C. — A snowshoer who set out alone on a rugged… Continue reading

‘It was joyous:’ Sun returns to some Nunavut communities for first time in weeks

IQALUIT — A sliver of orange rose over Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, earlier… Continue reading

People take photos through the extensive security surrounding the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, ahead of the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Susan Walsh
Less pomp, very different circumstances as D.C. prepares to inaugurate Biden, Harris

WASHINGTON — Some pomp. Very different circumstances. Inauguration day is supposed to… Continue reading

Winnipeg Jets' Nathan Beaulieu (88) and Nikolaj Ehlers (27) defend against Jansen Harkins (12) during scrimmage at their NHL training camp practice in Winnipeg, Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Winnipeg Jets cancel practice due to possible COVID-19 exposure

WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets have cancelled their practice today due to… Continue reading

Most Read