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

Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke. (File photo)
Surrey councillor trying to get policing referendum on the table, again

‘I’m sending it back for clarification,’ mayor decides

A simulation lab at Surrey Memorial Hospital has been helping healthcare professionals train during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted photo)
Surrey Memorial Hospital’s simulation lab trains professionals during COVID-19 pandemic

Surrey Hospitals Foundation contributing $100K toward new technologies

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the province’s COVID-19 vaccine plans during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Dr. Bonnie Henry says Surrey immunization targeted at neighbourhoods most at risk

‘What we’ve been looking at is the case rates by neighbourhood,’ provincial health officer says

A horse and driver cruise around the track at Fraser Downs in Cloverdale Sept. 14, 2020 amid smoke from U.S. forest fires. Harness Racing B.C. announced it’s halting the spring season two weeks early because of a lack of money and says racing won’t continue in September without and influx of cash. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Harness racing suspended at Fraser Downs

Spring season ends early, 135 workers out of jobs

Delta police are asking for the public’s help in locating 80-year-old Bob Stout, who police believe went missing from his Tsawwassen home between 1 and 8:30 a.m. on Friday, April 16. (Delta Police Department/submitted photos)
UPDATE: Missing senior found safe

Police think Bob Stout, 80, went missing from his Tsawwassen home between 1 to 8:30 a.m. April 16

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

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