Homebound seniors in Peel Region express frustration due to vaccination delays

Ann Swedak is housebound and alone; unable to leave her home due to a disability and the fact that she hasn’t been able to get a COVID-19 shot.

“I’m worried because I still want to live to see my grandchildren grow up,” the 85-year-old told CTV News Toronto Monday. 

And for the first time in 62 years, Ann is unable to see her beloved husband. Boris Swedak is in the stroke ward at Mississauga Hospital. The 84-year-old hasn’t been vaccinated either, despite being in hospital for ten days. 

“Of course I’m concerned,” said the Peel Region senior from his hospital bed. “It feels a little frustrating.”

Ann Swedak says she’s worried that despite all of the precautions they’ve taken this year, her husband will contract COVID-19.

“That’s not reasonable. They should have done something the first day he went in.” 

The Swedaks say they’ve been trying to get their shots for well over a month. And about a week-and-a-half ago they say they received a call from Peel Public Health.

“And they said as soon as they make arrangements, they’re going to call our phone and let us know when they’re going to come,” says Ann.

But that moment hasn’t arrived. A fact they say is particularly hard to accept, given people 18 and older in hotspots are now able to get their vaccines.

“There should be some type of provisions made,” Boris says.

Peel Region’s Medical Officer of Health says he understands the frustration, but adds that reaching homebound clients, “is the most resource intensive and, therefore, the slowest, least rapid part of our vaccination program.”

Dr. Lawrence Loh says 70 per cent of the region’s 80+ population has been vaccinated, and that mobile teams are working as quickly as they can.

“We have four teams. The teams are seeing approximately 40 homebound clients a day, but you can imagine, with hundreds of hundreds of clients in our region, it does take some time to get through.”

Adam Cotter, Manager of Public Affairs at Trillium Health Partners says, “vaccinations are only given to those who are well and medically stable. We cannot vaccinate those who are actively sick.” 

Cotter adds that while patients are encouraged to book their own appointments upon discharge, “physicians are also able to coordinate a vaccine appointment for these patients upon discharge, and can arrange same-day vaccinations for discharged patients.”

Boris Swedak says he still feels like more could be done, while he’s engaged in physiotherapy.

“Perhaps transport could be made for you, to take you from the hospital facility to the injection site prior to discharge,” Boris asked.

Meanwhile, Ann Swedak says she’s concerned Boris will contract COVID-19 in hospital.

“There’s a lot of cases there and the nurses go from floor so he can get it. And then he could bring it home, so I am very worried for him.”

And she fears they’ll both get sick, despite the isolation and deprivation they’ve endured since the pandemic began.