Health-care workers in Quebec want COVID-19 booster shots

Quebec health-care workers want to know why they are not allowed to get COVID-19 booster shots.

For weeks, the province has been offering third doses to certain population groups, including those with weakened immune systems and people with two doses of the Janssen (Johnson and Johnson), AstraZeneca, or Covishield vaccines.

Those working on the front lines with COVID-19 patients, though, have not been included.

“It’s mysterious because it’s clearly recognized across the world that you need at least three doses to be able to maintain the current level of vaccine efficacy against current and emerging variants,” Dr. Don Vinh, infectious diseases specialist at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), told Global News.

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Nathan Freedland, an emergency room nurse at the Lakeshore General Hospital in Pointe Claire, said medical staff never know what they’ll face.

“A few weeks ago I triaged a man who was coughing up blood,” he said.  “He had travelled and was a young man. He claimed he was vaccinated with only one dose.”

He said he suspected the patient may have had COVID-19.

“I listened to his chest with my stethoscope,” he said. “I don’t know what I could’ve picked up from this man.”

Other provinces are giving third shots to healthcare workers.

On Dec. 3, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization said booster doses are important for several groups, including people over age 50 and all front-line, health-care workers having direct in-person contact with patients.

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Quebec health minister Christan Dubé also said they would look at all the recommendations and decide in the coming days what they’ll do.

However, Vinh pointed out that even if the ministry decides to offer booster shots to them now, it would take weeks to complete.

“There’s a lot of healthcare workers across the province,” he said. “That means they would have to open sites, they would have to get vaccine supply unto those sites, they would have to make appointments.”

Now he and others wait to hear what the government decides to do.

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