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Pharmacists in southern Alberta discuss COVID-19 vaccine delays

Click to play video: 'Pharmacists in southern Alberta discuss COVID-19 vaccine delays' Pharmacists in southern Alberta discuss COVID-19 vaccine delays
Although the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines in Alberta are a significant step towards ending the pandemic, the rollout hasn't been without its challenges. Taz Dhaliwal has more on some of those challenges being faced by pharmacists in the South zone. – Apr 13, 2021

Vishal Sukhadiya, owner of the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy location on the south side of Lethbridge, has not been able to deliver as many COVID-19 vaccines to patients as he initially anticipated, a situation other Canadian pharmacists can relate to.

Sukhadiya says there’s been shipping delays and pharmacies are receiving fewer doses than expected.

In fact, he has yet to receive this week’s shipment of the Moderna vaccine. Sukhadiya says other pharmacy owners across the South zone haven’t received theirs either. They all get their shipment on the same day, he says, and he still isn’t sure when it will arrive.

“So, last week we got an email from Alberta Blue Cross saying that this week and next week the pharmacy allotment for the Moderna vaccine will be consistent, but after that we haven’t’ gotten any communication (as to) when we will get the shipment,” Sukhadiya explained.

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He adds it’s frustrating to continually receive a lack of reliable information when it comes to knowing exactly when pharmacists should be receiving their weekly shipments of the vaccine.

According to Alberta Blue Cross, vaccine shipments are coordinated between Alberta Health and pharmacy wholesale distributors.

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Todd Snow, the owner of Snow’s Pharmacy in Raymond is echoing the same concerns and says the delays are impacting their ability to get through an ever-growing waiting list.

Both Snow and Sukhadiya are not able to vaccinate any patients for the time being until they receive this week’s shipment.

Snow says some individuals may be waiting longer than others because vaccinations are being administered based on priority.

Click to play video: 'Pharmacists in southern Alberta discuss COVID-19 vaccine delays' Pharmacists in southern Alberta discuss COVID-19 vaccine delays
Pharmacists in southern Alberta discuss COVID-19 vaccine delays – Apr 13, 2021

“If someone walked in that is say 85 years old, they would be put on the waiting list, but then they would become first priority or high priority… because that was the very first group that was eligible to receive the vaccine,” Snow stated.

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“If someone came in that is a healthcare professional, they’re in Phase 2C, which is farther down the waiting list.”

Snow says even though that individual would be eligible to book an appointment, he would still have people above them on his waiting list and have to honour their appointments first.

He adds patients can help make the process less challenging for pharmacists by limiting the amount of waiting lists they sign up for.

Read more: Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout expands to front-line health-care workers on Monday

“A lot of people are getting their name on two, three, four, five, I don’t know how many waiting lists and that can be a little bit challenging when we’re trying to set the final appointments,” Snow said.

“(We get): ‘Oh, I already got it,’ (or), ‘Oh, which pharmacy is this?’ because they’ve called every pharmacy in southern Alberta to get their name on a list.”

Vivien Suttorp, lead medical officer of health for the South zone with Alberta Health Services, says any disruptions in supply may impact booking capabilities.

“If there’s a delay, there’s very careful management of appointments, so that we have social distancing,” Suttorp said.

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“There are also lots of reminder systems that are taking place so that people aren’t missing appointments.”

Alberta Health continues to ask for patience as the vaccine rollout continues.

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