Eleven lower city pharmacies in Hamilton have been added to the list of locations residents aged 55 and older can book an appointment to get the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, as of this week.
The drug stores will join 21 other locations in the city selected by the province for the rollout, however, not all of the pharmacies will start vaccinating at the same time the week of April 12.
Last week, about a half dozen Hamilton politicians expressed their outrage at Ontario’s decision to exclude lower Hamilton in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in pharmacies, calling the decision “reckless.”
Donna Skelly, Conservative MPP for Flamborough-Glanbrook, responded to the accusations saying the initial rollout was just the start, and that more locations, including those in the lower city, would gradually expanding to a list of about 69 Hamilton pharmacies by the end of the month.
“We will eventually see, I think pretty much all Shoppers Drug Marts in Ontario,” Skelly told Global News.
“Our objective with the AstraZeneca vaccine program is to get every pharmacy that’s interested and has participated in the previous flu vaccine programs, give them the ability to add the product to vaccinate anyone who is 65.”
There are now over 1,400 pharmacies that offer the vaccine, with the province expecting to add another 100 by the end of April.
Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA), says each pharmacy will be using their own booking systems to schedule appointments.
The OPA boss told Global News that like most vaccination clinics, supply is also a bit of a challenge for pharmacies.
Bates says each of the new locations in Hamilton will get an initial stock of about 200 vaccines which he says have been running out quickly for those that joined the program earlier in the month.
“When supply was shipped out last week for those phase two stores, that brought us up to a total of 700, they’re reordering,” said Bates.
“They’ve already gone through 200 and many have waitlists. So our throughput is quite significant.”
The CEO says more supply is on the way, about 580,000 AstraZeneca doses have been shipped to pharmacy wholesalers this week and are expected to help with reorders.
The message from the pharmacy association is to keep checking in with a local store as orders will be constantly replenished over several days.
“Hopefully from there we will have a continual reorder process and supply will not be interrupted,” Bates said.
“That will help with getting through all of the wait lists and appointments.”
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