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London home admits it erred in telling caregivers they could get COVID-19 vaccine

·2 min read

A London retirement home says it incorrectly told essential caregivers to seek COVID-19 vaccines at the Western Fair Agriplex despite the fact they aren't eligible for the shot in the region.

Amica London sent an email to some essential caregivers — registered, essential visitors who provide care such as feeding or mobility — advising them they were eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and to book an appointment at the vaccination site run by London Health Sciences Centre.

“Unfortunately, an update we sent to family members who are essential caregivers on Jan. 5 contained incorrect information,” Sandra Taggart, Amica London’s general manager, said in an email statement.

“Understandably, they were upset.”

Gayle Detenbeck of Bayfield, an essential caregiver for her 93-year-old mother at Amica, said earlier this week she was denied a vaccine at the Agriplex after booking an appointment.

She said she was “angry and frustrated” after driving an hour and a half from Bayfield, only to be turned away after signing waivers and making it past two screening checkpoints.

The 70-year-old is also an essential caregiver for her 71-year-old husband, who has Alzheimer’s, at a long-term care home in Clinton.

Detenbeck said she’s confused by the mixed messages surrounding the vaccine rollout, which lists essential caregivers in long-term care homes as a priority in the province’s first phase.

“One day it’s yes, the next day it’s no,” she said. “With all the other COVID things and with me being a caregiver for two people and the stress of that, it’s just overwhelming, all this uncertainty.”

Essential caregivers, including family caregivers, in long-term care and other congregate living settings for seniors, are included in the groups to be vaccinated in the province’s Phase 1 rollout, according to Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine framework.

But locally, the health unit is prioritizing residents and health-care workers in long-term care homes due to limited vaccine supplies.

“We have not had enough to be able to open it up to essential caregivers,” said associate medical officer of health Alex Summers. “It’s true that other parts of the province have been able to.”

London Health Sciences Centre temporarily stopped vaccinating front-line doctors and nurses, except those due for a second dose.

Summers said the health unit would like to open up vaccinations to essential caregivers in the coming weeks.

“There’s an importance of establishing these prioritization approaches and queues,” he said. “It’s really frustrating for people for sure, but it’s really critical.”

maxmartin@postmedia.comThe Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press