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What we know so far about COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Sask. pharmacies

Click to play video: 'Albertans can now visits some pharmacies to book AstraZeneca appointments' Albertans can now visits some pharmacies to book AstraZeneca appointments
Starting April 13, eligible Albertans can walk into some pharmacies in Edmonton and Calgary to book their AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines instead of booking their appointments over the phone or online – Apr 13, 2021

Saskatchewan pharmacies will soon be joining mass immunization, drive-thru and walk-in clinics administering the COVID-19 vaccine.

A pilot phase is set to begin the week of April 26 if vaccine supply allows. A total of 13 community pharmacies will participate in testing administration of the Pfizer product and 30 community pharmacies will work with the Moderna product at first.

Read more: Saskatchewan may start offering 2nd dose of AstraZeneca vaccine if age limitations continue

On April 12, the Saskatchewan government announced pharmacies would begin administering vaccines through the aged-based sequence for the general public and to pharmacy and grocery staff working in the building where vaccines are offered.

“As pharmacies begin delivering the COVID-19 vaccine, we know there will be an increased risk of exposure to those frontline staff working in those facilities. By making the COVID-19 vaccine available to staff working in the pharmacy or attached grocery spaces through the pharmacists delivering the vaccine, these workers will be protected,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said in a press release.

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“We thought it was very important to get to that demographic and they have the capabilities in-house to be able to do it. If there’s a pharmacy within a grocery store we can certainly get them to vaccinate the staff right away,” Merriman told reporters.

Merriman added he’s not aware how many grocery-store employees there are in the province, but he believes it is a significant number.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan’s top doctor reassures safety of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after 1st blood clot reported in Canada' Saskatchewan’s top doctor reassures safety of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after 1st blood clot reported in Canada
Saskatchewan’s top doctor reassures safety of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after 1st blood clot reported in Canada – Apr 13, 2021

A provincial news release stated that pharmacies would require proof of employment in the facility where the vaccine is being delivered.

The director of professional practice with the Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan (PAS) is asking the public to be patient as pharmacies start working toward a larger rollout.

Myla Bulych said individual pharmacies will be using their own booking system, whether that be over the phone or online. Pharmacy staff will have access to a patient’s immunization records, allowing them to record the vaccination. Staff have also been trained on how to enter data for the province to keep track of how many doses are used at each pharmacy.

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With over 400 pharmacies across the province, this will give residents another option to receive the vaccine, Bulych said.

A lot of patients we’re hearing from really want to get their vaccines in the pharmacy because they really like the booking system that we started to use during flu season. And for whatever reason, they’re wanting to work with their pharmacist and increased hours, weekends and things like this. The clinics have offered that. But I think it’s just one more option for Saskatchewan residents.”

Bulych added that recently enacted legislation will allow pharmacy technicians and students to help administer COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Read more: Overview of Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 vaccination plan

“We’re pretty excited about that. It will give us several more hundred vaccinators that can help out.”

As for the booking system, each individual pharmacy will be communicating that information with their community. Bulych said once a larger rollout is available in pharmacies, the PAS is hoping to post a list of participating pharmacies on its website.

“Once the list is published, the patients will be able to go to that pharmacy and ask them the best way to book,” Bulych said.

Bulych added that the pilot phase slated to occur at the end of April and beginning of May will deal with a limited supply of vaccines in a limited number of pharmacies, so the process may be different.

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“We just want the public to know it’s in process and to be patient because the pharmacies don’t even necessarily have all the information just yet.”

Bulych said once pilot pharmacies are chosen, they will be communicating with their regular patients.

Pharmacies will be abiding by the provincial eligibility requirements for the administration of all COVID-19 vaccines.

The PAS does not have complete details yet about who will be receiving vaccines during the pilot phase but Bulych said it will be based on the provincial eligibility requirements at the time, including age-based sequencing and the parameters that are provided for grocery store and pharmacy staff.

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