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Ontario man tries to get 2nd COVID-19 vaccine dose, but computer glitch wrongly says he’s had one

Click to play video: 'Man denied 2ND COVID-19 shot after pharmacy claims he’s already fully vaccinated' Man denied 2ND COVID-19 shot after pharmacy claims he’s already fully vaccinated
A Mississauga man was denied a second shot of COVID-19 vaccine because Shoppers Drug Mart said he had received two shots already. But Neil McDougall says he only had one. Government records appeared to show a data entry error because both shots were recorded on the same day. As Sean O’Shea reports, a mistake like this could prevent you from getting fully vaccinated – Jul 7, 2021

Neil McDougall wanted to get his second shot of the COVID-19 vaccine because he sees the rationale for getting fully vaccinated as quickly as possible.

“To stay healthy so I don’t get sick,” McDougall told Global News.

McDougall had his first shot at a Brampton Rexall pharmacy in April. Then, on June 26, he was scheduled to receive a second shot at a Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy in Mississauga.

Read more: Public Health Ontario COVID-19 data showing vaccines provide ‘high degree’ of protection

Despite qualifying for the second shot and showing up at the Lakeshore Road East location as required, McDougall was turned away.

After punching in McDougall’s health card number, pharmacy representatives claimed he had already received two doses.

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But he hadn’t.

“I was told I was vaccinated…and they won’t give me another one,” McDougall said.

When asked by Global News if he’d received a second dose at the time, McDougall said he had not.

It isn’t a question of McDougall’s word against the pharmacy’s: Shoppers Drug Mart told McDougall that records appear to show the Mississauga man had received two shots on the same day–something that’s not possible.

“You can’t have two shots in one day, right?” McDougall said with a laugh.

Shoppers Drug Mart said it needed more information and wanted to communicate with McDougall privately before commenting, according to a spokesperson for Loblaw, the pharmacy’s parent company.

Read more: Ontario reports 194 new COVID-19 cases, zero deaths for the first time since last year

Justin Bates, executive director of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, said he has not heard of this kind of problem being a widespread issue.

“The health care provider pulls up the information from COVaxON which is the source of truth on the vaccine record to validate eligibility of the person before administering a vaccine. If the record shows they got a first dose and second dose then it is required that the pharmacy or other healthcare provider denies another dose,” Bates wrote in an email.

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But McDougall wonders why, if it recognized an obvious mistake, the pharmacy didn’t give the shot and investigate the reasons later.

“They knew there was an error, they couldn’t change it, no one seems to be able to change it,” he said.

McDougall called Global News for help and to advise others about the potential problem that they might be denied, too.

“I’d just like to get a shot really, that’s all,” he said.

Global News asked Ontario’s ministry of health to explain how this kind of error could occur; however, a government spokesperson who promised to look into the question did not send a response in time for publication.

Read more: COVID-19: Details of next step of Ontario’s reopening plan in the works, health minister says

McDougall subsequently attempted to register to receive a second vaccine through the provincial website but it also claimed he had received two shots and was not eligible.

Eventually, McDougall found a Toronto clinic that would offer him an appointment on Thursday, but he’s not optimistic about the chances he’ll be fully vaccinated.

“I’m fully expecting to be turned away again.”

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