WINDSOR, ONT. -- When Camilla Dunn received her first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on March 16, she was confident she’d be returning to the same place for the second, when the time came.

Instead, the pharmacy she initially went to told her they weren’t offering any second AstraZeneca doses at this time and to look elsewhere.

“There seems to be a lack of communication,” Dunn says.

Dunn is one of nearly 17,000 people in the Windsor-Essex region who is now eligible and looking for the second AstraZeneca jab.

“It is just a little bit frustrating to have to do all of this telephoning and researching ourselves and not being given any definitive answers,” she says.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit delivered 4,500 doses to 24 pharmacies across the region Tuesday for individuals who received their first shot between March 10 to 19.

The province announced anyone who received a first AstraZeneca shot between those specific dates would be eligible earlier than expected for the second — as part of an effort to use 55,000 doses in Ontario before their May 31 expiration date.

Health unit CEO Theresa Marentette admitted Wednesday there was a limited supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine available in Windsor-Essex before the next shipment arrives. Most local pharmacies received no more than 50 doses, meaning less than 1,200 near expiration date doses were distributed.

“At this time, there won’t be enough vaccine for everybody so it’s not a guaranteed dose for everyone, but in time they will get their second dose, just this week it will be very limited,” Marentette says.

She says more AstraZeneca second dose shots are coming soon, but notes there are upwards of 3,300 existing doses also set to expire at the end of June already in the region as part of the 4,500 previously distributed Tuesday.

“We’re using what we have to make sure it gets out to people,” Marentette says.

Pharmacist Tim Brady tells CTV News the recent push by the province has created a surge of people calling in search of second dose appointments.

“We’re probably getting anywhere between 300-400 calls on it a day,” he says.

Brady says he doesn’t want people to panic thinking there won’t be enough vaccines to go around, noting more are expected to arrive in June. 

“We’re going to get everybody vaccinated,” he says. “If we have to vaccinate seven days a week we’ll do it seven days a week if we have to.”

The Vice Chair of the Ontario Pharmacists Association says it’s okay to get the second AstraZeneca shot early, but recommends waiting 12 weeks between shots versus ten.

Brady says data shows the vaccine’s efficacy increases 10 per cent in the two weeks in between.

“If you want to go early it’s fine, but I do recommend for most patients, wait the 12 weeks. You’re going to get the best results out of it.” Brady adds, “If you’re going to go for two shots, you want to have the best results and the best results are at 12 weeks from all the data that we have.”

Dunn was able to get put on a notification list at Brady’s Drug Store, but isn’t sure when her appointment is yet.

She says she isn’t deterred by the frustration, and still intends to get the second AstraZeneca shot.

“Certainly there’s a lot of anxiety and a lot of discussion and even one negative story about the blood clotting and death obviously is worth concern,” Dunn says. “But personally, I’m going to get the AstraZeneca second dose if it becomes available to me.”

As of Wednesday morning, 231,271 Windsor-Essex County residents had received at least one dose of either the AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.