AstraZeneca vaccine is ready to be used at a homeless shelter in Romford, east London, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Frank Augstein

AstraZeneca vaccine is ready to be used at a homeless shelter in Romford, east London, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Frank Augstein

Lower Mainland pharmacists face ‘overwhelming’ demand for AstraZeneca shots

COVID vaccines available for people between the ages of 55 and 65

Despite a series of stumbling blocks in the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout at community pharmacies, the president of the BC Pharmacy Association says she’s excited to see so much demand for the shots.

Annette Robinson said the rollout was “overwhelming.” The announcement about people aged 55 to 65 being eligible for the vaccine at Lower Mainland pharmacies came only Tuesday afternoon, not leaving much time for preparation.

“A lot of pent-up demand. People are very interested in getting the vaccination,” Robinson said, noting that the recent news about AstraZeneca did not seem to temper interest at all. On Monday, B.C. officials announced that they were pausing the frontline worker program, which had run parallel to the age-based vaccine rollout, because of concerns over vaccine-induced pro-thrombotic immune thrombocytopenia (VIPIT) in people under the age of 55. Officials said there had been less than 30 cases identified around the world, primarily in Europe, and none in Canada.

“Pharmacists are the drug experts,” Robinson said. “We’re very able to answer those questions and remove that hesitancy.”

While hesitancy did not appear to be an issue with the AstraZeneca vaccine this week, Robinson said their was only one consideration in which vaccine people should sign up for: “The best vaccine is the one that you’re offered first.”

However, the AstraZeneca rollout was not without issues. London Drugs, which had three locations participating in the program, was inundated with calls and booked up all its doses Tuesday.

In a series of tweets, the company outlined its concerns.

“As soon as the news was public, all of our Lower Mainland British Columbia stores became inundated with customers wanting to book appointments. Our pharmacies that were selected immediately began taking down eligible patient information aged 55 to 65 for appointments,” the company said in a a social media post. London Drugs asked people to stop calling its pharmacies and that when more doses were available, they would be added to its online booking tool.

“These pharmacies learned yesterday that clearly there’s as a pent-up demand and we’re just happy to help,” Robinson explained.

Shoppers Drug Mart was also inundated, and did not have an online booking system, while Rexall provided only a waitlist online.

On Thursday afternoon, Health Minister Adrian Dix said that pharmacies in the Lower Mainland were provided with 13,500 doses, just under 20 per cent of the doses B.C. has received of the AstraZeneca vaccine overall. Dix said that pharmacies received does based on their flu shot rollout last the fall.

“We’re expecting, from the federal government… 43,000 more on Friday,” Dix added, noting that does not include the 1.5 million expected from the U.S.

Robinson said this had been a busier than usual six months overall for pharmacies, which first dealt with limited supply during the flu shot rollout this fall.

“We administered over a million flu shots and that’s historic,” she said. “We can use a lot of the information, the tools and the resources that we had garnered about vaccinating patients in the middle of a pandemic with the flu shots… and use that for the COVID vaccinations.

More vaccines are expected to arrive at pharmacies, and Robinson said pharmacies will communicate out when they have more doses. Until then, she urged people to have patience.

Black Press Media has reached out to the province for more details on amount of vaccine available to pharmacies. In total, B.C. officials said the program is meant to get 300,000 doses in arms around the province.

For a list of participating pharmacies, visit: www.bcpharmacy.ca/resource-centre/covid-19/vaccination-locations.

READ MORE: B.C.’s frontline worker vaccine program in flux as AstraZeneca use paused for under-55s

READ MORE: AstraZeneca vaccine to be offered to Lower Mainland residents ages 55-65 starting March 31

Coronavirusvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

CNC’s Applied Research and Innovation had partnered with the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Cariboo Agricultural Research Alliance and Mackin Creek Farm after receiving funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to research a number of solutions potentially extending northern growing seasons. (Photo submitted)
Ways to extend growing season in B.C.’s north explored by College of New Caledonia in Quesnel

Low-cost supplemental LED lighting appears to benefit plant growth

Ecosystem restoration burn planned northwest of Quesnel near Neewa Creek

Burning will take place between April 19 and 30, 2021

Robert Merz recently shared some history behind Merz Road on Facebook. Originally built as a portion of the old Nazko Road, he said Merz Road was named to honour his grandfather and long-time Bouchie Lake resident Walt Merz. (Robert Merz Facebook photo)
Bouchie Lake residents record history with Rural Road Name Challenge

Residents explore and share origins of road names

The City of Quesnel issued an evacuation order for the property 1927 Dragon Hill Road, where the business Marshall Veterinary Hospital is located, due to the risk of landslide Thursday, April 15. (Marshall Veterinary Clinic Facebook photo)
Marshall Veterinary Hospital staff left scrambling after receiving evacuation order

Quesnel business ordered to evacuate due to landslide risk

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after being recorded making comments to a DTES harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Sarah Blyth/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Police officer convicted of uttering threats under B.C. watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to civilian Sarah Blyth

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

B.C. Premier John Horgan greets Lt. Governor Janet Austin’s dog Macduff as she arrives to present the throne speech at the B.C. legislature, April 12, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of B.C. residents have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Photo by Metro Creative Connection
New campgrounds coming to B.C. parks as part of $83M provincial boost

This season alone, 185 campsites are being added to provincial parks, says Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Most Read