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COVID-19: Ontario pharmacies waiting on AstraZeneca vaccine shipments

Click to play video: 'Ontario pharmacies waiting on more Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses' Ontario pharmacies waiting on more Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses
WATCH ABOVE: Many Ontarians tried to book appointments Monday for their second shot of AstraZeneca. Shallima Maharaj has the story. – May 24, 2021

Ontario residents who received their first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine between March 10 and March 19 became eligible on Monday to book an appointment for their second shot.

However, some expressed frustration with a lack of available bookings and vaccine supply.

Last week, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Health told Global News around 100,000 people received their first dose of AstraZeneca during that time frame.

There are approximately 55,000 doses in the province set to expire at the end of May.

READ MORE: Ontario to provide 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after temporary suspension

Ontario Pharmacists Association CEO Justin Bates said approximately 31,000 doses are located in community pharmacies.

“We started the planning process about seven days go, working with the distributor to determine where all of the remaining 31,000 doses are located,” Bates told Global News.

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He said the doses were collected on Friday and Saturday, and are now undergoing quality assurance.

“Public health is reviewing all the temperature logs, making sure that each of the doses that were recovered, they will be redistributed, are still good, not spoiled.”

Read more: Ontario can only have ‘good summer’ if COVID-19 vaccines continue, some measures remain: officials

Bates expects shipments to begin arriving at participating pharmacies by Tuesday afternoon, however, there is the possibility of a delay until Wednesday.

Many locations have been able to administer a minimum of 40 shots per day. Bates said it is likely each of the Toronto locations will receive anywhere from 300 to 500 doses.

After temporarily pausing use of the viral-vector vaccine the week prior, the province greenlit the second doses on Friday. The pharmacy announcement immediately applies to Toronto, Kingston and Windsor, which were part of the initial rollout.

A number of primary care settings also received doses.

“This is an early second dose, and there is a replenishment strategy,” Bates said.

“There is more coming. If you can’t get in this week, there’s no reason to panic.”

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Starting this week, those who are eligible can book an appointment to get their second shot at the earlier 10-week interval with informed consent. The recommended interval is 12 weeks.

The pilot initially involved more than 325 pharmacies, offering the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine to Ontarians aged between 60 and 64.

The provincial government encouraged the public to contact the pharmacy or primary care provider where they received their first shot. However, some pharmacies and physicians have already begun notifying people of available bookings.

Bates said approximately 120 pharmacies in Toronto are expected to receive doses of vaccine.

Bates said a list will be published to the provincial government vaccine website, and Vaccine Hunters Canada in the coming days.

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