Alberta has administered more than 675,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine as of April 1, but some Albertans feel the rollout has been rolling a bit all over the place.
“Every week we are getting the message that your shipment will get delayed by one week,” Boyle McCauley Pharmacy pharmacist Jalpesh Patel said.
For Boyle McCauley Pharmacy, that delay has happened more than once.
The pharmacy was initially told it would received 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine, but now the province isn’t saying how many are coming or when.
Regardless of the supply, calls still keep coming in.
“Everyday I get about 10 phone calls,” Patel said.
Those calls have turned into a growing wait list, even with Patel and staff limiting appointments to older Albertans, but some say not all pharmacies are doing the same.
Alberta is currently in Phase 2B of its vaccine rollout.
Albertans born 2005 to 1957 (16 to 64 years old) with eligible high-risk underlying health conditions are eligible in this phase. For a list of qualifying health conditions, click here.
However, not everyone can book right away. Bookings open by birth year. More years and locations are being added as supply increases.
“People have been jumping the queues by not actually saying why they are in that bracket,” Trevor Quinton said.
Quinton said his high-risk underlying health conditions qualify him and his pregnant sister for this phase. Both are in their early 30s and both are waiting their turn. His 63-year-old mother is also waiting to get her vaccine.
“It makes me sad that people my age look at someone like my mother and be like, ‘I’m more important,'” Quinton said.
Alberta Health said all pharmacies are given explicit guidance on booking and utilizing a waitlist to ensure that doses aren’t wasted.
“Pharmacies can include a variety of individuals on the waiting list, but are required to align it with Alberta’s immunization approach,” Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan told Global News.
“The waiting list must prioritize giving expiring vaccines first to people who already eligible in the current or previous phases.
“From there, pharmacies must prioritize individuals eligible in the next birth years of Phase 2B, Phase 2C and, if still no one is available, offer the expiring vaccine to the oldest individual possible.
“Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that the 800+ participating pharmacies are widely misusing doses or not following the correct approach.
“In fact, pharmacies have been working incredibly hard to support Albertans during this challenging time. We could not safely rollout this vaccine without them,” McMillan added.
According to Alberta Health, more than 36,000 appointments are already been booked for Phase 2B and more than 100,000 people are on waiting lists to get the vaccine as more doses become available.
“Next week, Phase 2B will expand in a big way,” Tom McMillan told Global News. “Starting April 5, all Albertans born in 1963 and earlier, with one or more of the high-risk underlying health conditions, will also be able to book appointments with Alberta Health Services.”
All pharmacies must report all doses administered to Alberta Health, which is working directly with pharmacy partners, McMillan said.
“It’s almost like Black Friday,” Quinton said. “They’ll push people out of the way in front of the door to get the 40-inch TV first.”
Quinton said he wants to see those most vulnerable get the vaccine first.
The province is encouraging Albertans to visit its website for vaccine eligibility information.