Lethbridge pharmacies seeing slower demand for free rapid test kits

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Lethbridge pharmacies seeing ‘slower’ demand for free rapid test kits
The province is now including Lethbridge pharmacies in its rollout of free COVID-19 rapid test kits. But while people are still grabbing the kits, the demand isn’t as high as it was even a month ago. Erik Bay has more. – Feb 16, 2022

Rapid COVID-19 test kits, which were only available at the Lethbridge Health Unit when the province originally rolled out its free kit program in December, will now be distributed by the city’s pharmacies.

While people are still grabbing them, pharmacies aren’t seeing the same need as before.

“Demand was probably higher prior to receiving the tests,” pharmacist Amber Mueller said. “Our phone was ringing off the hook to receive the at-home tests.

Read more: Wastewater testing for COVID-19 continues in Lethbridge

Stafford Pharmacy & Home Healthcare has roughly half the initial shipment of 648 kits still available.

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At Westbridge Pharmacy, owner Aaron Koegler has only unloaded about 150 kits.

“We got a bunch of boxes when it first came in, and we can order more still. Talking with other pharmacists, there’s been a lot of supply,” Koegler said.

He believes there are many reasons why demand isn’t as high right now.

“Kids are getting them through school, and I think a lot of people have them through work,” Koegler said. “There was a lot of demand for it just before Christmas and about a month after that. That’s kind of started to settle down a bit.”

Free kits are arriving in Lethbridge pharmacies just as the federal government announced negative rapid antigen test results will be accepted for travellers entering the country as of Feb. 28.

Read more: Feds scrapping pre-arrival COVID PCR test requirement for fully vaccinated travellers

Pharmacists are reminding people their free kits don’t meet the new requirements.

“The at-home test is mostly for if you are having some symptoms at home and you’re curious if you’re going to test positive or not,” Mueller said. “The one that we perform in the pharmacy, where we provide documentation about the results, that one’s more intended for travelling.”

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PCR tests will continue to be accepted on arrival, but Koegler says rapid tests provide a different option.

“The rapid test gives you quick results. It’s very specific, so that means that if it is a positive result, it is a positive result. There are very few false positives with it.”

Free test kits can be picked up once every 14 days with an Alberta health-care number.

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