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Lisa Westaway, the executive director of the Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre (KMHC) confirmed on Thursday that the Mohawk Super Bingo will be used for a vaccine site in Kahnawake.
“It’s ready to go,” Westaway said. “It’s all set up, we were there yesterday.”
“The human resources will be secured by the end of next week, the training documents are already prepared, rules and responsibility of everyone who will be doing work in there, all we need is the vaccine,” Westaway said.
She stated that while they still have some work to do at the government level regarding the vaccine, her goal is to have the new vaccine site ready between February and March.
Francine Beauvais, who is part of the board of the Mohawk Super Bingo and a Longhouse representative for the Turtle Clan, said they were in agreement for the usage of the building.
Beauvais confirmed that the building, that is currently not being used, is a large space that would be able to accommodate what they need.
The building has two large doors and a substantial parking area.
“The needs are there,” Beauvais said.
Beauvais also confirmed that they are setting up and preparing plexiglass and dividers where the stations will be.
“Maintenance has been working pretty hard,” she said.
Beauvais also emphasized that although their location is being used for a vaccine site, it does not mean they are sending a message.
“Just because we are allowing the community to use the building, it doesn’t mean we are promoting the vaccine in any way, it’s up to every individual to decide what they want to do in terms of getting vaccinated or not getting vaccinated,” said Beauvais.
Vaccination continues in Kahnawake
Westway confirmed that about 250 residents and employees from the KMHC In-Patient Care Unit, Turtle Bay Elders’ Lodge and the Independent Living Centre (ILC) have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccination began on December 23, where community members received the first dose of the vaccine 26 kilometres away from the community, at Quartier Dix30 in Brossard.
A new site in the Monteregie West area of Candiac will be opening today for more community members to receive their first dose of the vaccine until the one in Kahnawake opens.
Kahnawake has received both the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The Pfizer vaccine must be kept frozen, close to minus 80 degrees, which makes it extremely challenging to transport once it’s been delivered to a location.
The Moderna vaccine is less fragile than Pfizier, therefore making it easier to distribute.
Westaway states they are continuing to vaccinate, but that they are still at the priority one and two levels on Quebec’s priority groups for vaccination list, like the rest of Quebec.
Priority one aims to vaccinate elders in long-term facilities and priority two aims to vaccinate workers in healthcare and social services networks.
Quebec has currently administered 107,365 doses, meaning 68.68 percent of total doses sent to the province have been used.
Canada has vaccinated 433,446, meaning 61 percent of doses sent to Canada have been used, according to the COVID-19 Tracker.
Second dose timeline debate
The decision to delay the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine has sparked debate across the province and is being challenged by those who are still waiting for their second dose.
Similarly in Kahnawake, who are also subject to Quebec’s vaccination plan, residents and employees of the KMHC In-patient Care Unit, Turtle Bay Elders’ Lodge and the Independent Living Centre (ILC) who have already received their first dose of the vaccine are waiting for their second dose.
When asked about the second dose timeline, Westaway stated that at this point in time, she’s not worried.
She said Quebec’s decision to delay the second dose will not impact its effectiveness, according to the information she has been provided with thus far.
“There is evidence that you can delay, the only problem is that there’s no evidence of how long you can delay for,” Westaway said.
Westaway also noted that the ministry’s plan for the vaccine schedule states that they plan on administering the second dose in February.
This week, news broke that seven residents at Maimonides Geriatrics Centre in Côte SaintLuc who received their first dose of the COVID-19 last month tested positive for the virus.
When asked about the recent event, Westaway said people are using this story to push the ministry to provide the second dose, claiming that this is a result of the fact that they did not receive their second dose within the timeline instructed by the vaccine manufacturers.
“But that’s not true,” Westaway said. “Because we do know that after the first dose, it takes up to 21 days to start developing antibodies.”
“They contracted COVID-19 during that time frame,” she said. “This just brings up the importance of reminding us all that just because our elders are vaccinated, they are still not protected, and we still have to maintain the utmost safety around them.”
However, while Westaway said she is not yet concerned about the second dose timeline, she is in support of the push back on the government.
“I participate in that because I want to make sure that we do get the second dose as it was developed to be,” she said. “But I feel that the government will move forward with that and I understand their rationale in wanting to protect as many people as possible and worry about the second dose a little bit down the line.”
“I see both sides, but we do need that second dose,” she said.