Pharmacy vaccinations could start 'as early as next week': Essex County pharmacist
WINDSOR, ONT. -- An Essex County pharmacy owner says they are working through the logistics of an “unprecedented” project to help with the region's COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Tim Brady, owner of Brady’s Drug Stores in Essex County is taking part in the pilot project that the government of Ontario announced Wednesday.
The province says they are distributing COVID-19 vaccines to pharmacies to just three parts of the province: Toronto, Kingston and Windsor-Essex.
“When they asked for pilot sites we did express our interest in being a pilot site,” says Theresa Marentette, CEO of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.
“The plan is for AstraZeneca (vaccine) at this time,” according to medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed. “The vaccines will start to come in maybe in a week or two.”
“I know the Province right now has secured about 400,000 doses so like I say, spread out over three regions? Windsor could be getting up to 100,000 which could be up to 50,000 people (getting vaccinated),” according to Brady.
Now, he says the pharmacists, province and health unit are working on the logistics.
“The shots’ the easy part,” says Brady. “The two hard parts is getting, do we have enough to give people shots? And secondly, how do we track it to make sure we know that someones’ had it.”
Brady says Ontario has an electronic system for tracking who should get a vaccine, for booking their appointment, for confirming when it’s done and for circling back to book their booster shot.
“That’s not necessarily integrated into the pharmacy,” he says.
Brady says the rollout is proceeding minute by minute, with figuring out all the details, to get shots in arms as quickly as possible, because he believes once rolled out, pharmacy vaccinations can be significant.
“In Windsor-Essex you have over 100 pharmacies that would be eligible to give the shot. So even doing 10 shots a day, so, that could be 1,000 people and if you just keep compiling it up there,” says Brady.
Scientists are now recommending against using the AstraZeneca vaccine on anyone over the age of 65.
So Brady and Ahmed say they will likely start with the 60-65 age group as a “criteria” for the pilot project.
Once it’s fully rolled out, Brady says 100 pharmacies in Windsor-Essex will be eligible to give COVID vaccines.
That’s the same number of pharmacies that volunteered to give influenza shots this past year.
“We were able to vaccinate over one million people in probably three to four weeks. So if you give the pharmacists in this province the chance to do it, we will definitely step up to do it,” says Brady
While they work out the details of the pilot project, Brady is asking for patience from customers to avoid calling them, for now, because the process still isn’t clear
“I suspect a lot of pharmacists phones are ringing off the hook today,” Brady adds.