Homebound seniors are not getting COVID-19 vaccines on time, 97-year-old Toronto man says

TORONTO — A Scarborough, Ont. senior, who is homebound, is still waiting to get his COVID-19 vaccine and his family is becoming increasingly worried he will contract the deadly virus.

“It seems like a lost cause to me, I’m mystified,” 97 year-old Tom Fitzpatrick told CTV News Toronto. “We are the most vulnerable people – I had expected it earlier.”

Fitzpatrick is unable to walk and sufferers from multiple health conditions including congestive heart failure and diabetes.

His family registered him for the homebound immunization program the City of Toronto launched last month that would see paramedic’s vaccinate Fitzpatrick, but they haven’t received any confirmation.

“They have no timetable on when it’s going to happen,” his daughter Ann Fitzpatrick said. “He has seven children in Toronto, and we all have had our vaccine and our 97-year-old father has not, something is not right.”

Fitzpatrick relies on several care givers to assist him in his home daily and his family worries that puts him at even greater risk.

“We have no guarantee all of those people have received their vaccine. I can’t imagine how big his bubble is,” Ann said.

Toronto’s fire chief, who is overseeing the vaccination rollout, acknowledged during Wednesday’s COVID-19 update that there is still a lot of work to be done for homebound individuals, but added it’s contingent on vaccine supply.

“We’re making the best effort that we can with all the resources that we can deploy which is constrained to the availability of vaccine,” Matthew Pegg said. “The moment more vaccine is available we will increase those efforts.”

According to the Ontario Science Advisory Table there are more than 20,000 homebound individuals in Toronto.

Dr. Samir Sinha, who helped developed the rollout for homebound seniors in Toronto, says health officials have identified about 6,000 individuals who will be immunized at home.

“The good news is in the last few weeks we’ve actually vaccinated close to 2,000 homebound individuals,” Sinha said.

He adds there are number of logistical challenges and it will take months to vaccinate every homebound senior.

“Right now there are a lot of people who are anxious because they know they are on the list, but they don’t know when that vaccine is coming, but we also don’t have an army of people right now to do these vaccinations when each in-home vaccination takes an hour to deliver and vaccinate.”

The list of homebound residents waiting to be vaccinated is extensive and Toronto Paramedic Service tells CTV News Toronto its working as quickly as possible.

“We are currently providing 150-175 in-home COVID-19 vaccinations every week,” Acting Superintendent Dinesen Robinson said in an email. “Some of the challenges to providing in-home COVID-19 vaccination includes vaccine mobility, client consent and geography of clients throughout the city.”

Planning is also underway to add more resources. Toronto’s Mayor John Tory said Wednesday that several medical professionals have come forward to assist, including nurse practitioners and physicians.

“You obviously have to train them in how this program works, which we are in the process of doing now,” John Tory said.

The Fitzpatricks say that is encouraging news, but are still worried about how much longer they will have to wait to have their father vaccinated.

“I know my dad is 97, but he still loves his family, he still has a quality of life and we want to keep him healthy, He deserves his vaccine.”

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