Families of first vaccine recipients threaten legal action against Quebec over second dose flip-flop

As Quebec remains firm on its decision to hold back second doses of the coronavirus vaccine, families of some of the first Pfizer vaccine recipients are threatening legal action.

Joyce Shanks is one of the people demanding the province administer second doses.

Her father, a resident of the Maimonides long-term care home in Cote-Saint-Luc, was one of the first people to get a dose of the new vaccine.

Shanks said it was a ray of hope after nine months of being “scared to death.”

She says a letter of consent had to be signed for the vaccine to be administered, which outlined the process of being immunized, requiring two doses, 21 days apart.

According to Shanks, the day her father was prepared to receive a second dose, the province changed its plan. She and her father were notified that he would have to wait.

Instead, the vaccine that would’ve gone to Shanks's father will be given to someone else as a first dose.

"I would like to advise you of a significant change," wrote Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, the CEO of the CIUSSS that oversees Maimonides, in a statement to residents and staff that was sent to CTV on Monday.

"Individuals who have already received the first of their two doses of the Pfizer vaccine will have to wait longer than expected to get their second dose."

Shanks says she was devastated. “That hope, that glimmer, that ray, was gone,” she said.

A 'DANGEROUS APPROACH'

In response, Shanks and other members of the Maimonides Family Advocacy Committee have commissioned an open letter threatening legal action against the province.

They say withholding the second dose goes against what people signed for in their consent forms and is therefore a breach of contract.

The letter addresses Quebec Premier Francois Legault and Health Minister Christian Dubé.

“No other jurisdiction has adopted this dangerous approach,” reads the letter. “There is medical proof that indicate a single dose is insufficient, counterproductive, and raises the risk of being infected by COVID-19.”

Julius Grey, a Montreal lawyer and former president of the Canadian Human Rights Foundation, co-wrote the open letter.

“It appears to be legally wrong,” said Grey. “The other problem is that it may be medically wrong.”

ONE DOSE MODEL NOT SUPPORTED BY PFIZER

A spokesperson for Pfizer told CTV News this week that the company does not support the province’s plan to withhold a second dose of their vaccine.

“It’s not accurate that this model is supported by Pfizer,” said spokesperson Christina Antoniou.

Quebec’s health department says a single dose of the vaccine provides most of the protection against the virus.

The second dose, according to Dr. Gaston De Serres of Quebec’s national public health institute, serves to extend that protection.

Members of the Maimonides Family Advocacy Committee are demanding the second dose be administered before Jan. 9, 2021.

“If that does not happen, then we are put in a position where we would have to make an injunction,” said Grey.

“I hope that won’t happen.”  

Read the open letter below or here:

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