People with developmental disabilities frustrated over Quebec COVID-19 vaccine rollout and may sue

A lawyer representing people with developmental disabilities is threatening to sue the Quebec government if his clients and their families aren't vaccinated for COVID-19 soon.

Lawyer Julius Grey said he's giving the government of Quebec a few days to act and that a letter will be coming by Monday if nothing is done.

Quebec said in March that it was prioritizing vaccines for people with disabilities, but not if they live at home.

Advocates of people with disabilities such as Down Syndrome and autism say these people are at a higher risk for COVID-19 because of their genetics.

Hospitalization rates for people with these disabilities are 5 times the normal and their death rate is 10 times higher, according to Grey. 

"Clearly, there is something absurd, arbitrary and discriminatory about the order of priority, which excludes some people who are at serious risk," Grey said. 

Premier Francois Legault said Thursday that his government is following public health's advice in its vaccine rollout.  

Last month, the U.S. Center for Disease Controld and Prevention added Down Syndrome to its list of underlying conditions that can lead to severe illness from COVID-19. But when Quebec opened up vaccine eligibilty to people under 60 with chronic illnesses, Down Syndrome was not on the list. 

That doesn't sit well with Evelyn Lusthaus. Her 43-year-old daughter, Hannah, has Down Syndrome, and wants her to be protected. 

"They say vulnerability is the primary criteria, but then if you say, but here's a vulnberability as well, can't we look at one variable at a time," she said. 

About two weeks ago, Hannah got a call from a pharmacist saying they had one extra dose at the end of theday that would have gone to waste, meaning she is one step closer to getting her independence back. 

However, Evelyn said vulnerable people shouldn't have to wait for a call that may or may not come.

"I mean when I called my pharmacies that I know in the neighbourhood they all said absolutely not, so it's not easy to access through a pharmacy," she said.

"It's very unjust ... It's very haphazard."

Quebec public health did not return CTV's request for comment Friday afternoon. 

-- With files from CTV Montreal's Matt Gilmour

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