Sean Simpson hopes to be one of the pharmacies to offer a COVID vaccination, and he hopes to see that happening soon.
He could be vaccinating as many as 200 people a day, if needed, but he’s expecting the number to be more in the 50 to 100 range, he says. When that will begin to happen is unclear.
Simpson estimates most pharmacies will be able to handle about 40-plus vaccinations a day.
He was taken by surprise when Premier Doug Ford announced Friday he would be expanding the number of pharmacies to offer the vaccine, with no further information about where or when.
Meanwhile, he’s getting “a ton of calls” from residents with questions about vaccinations.
He was disappointed by the lack of transparency, and the lack of any advance warning to pharmacy owners, who will need to be prepared when they learn vaccine is on its way.
Simpson, representing the Pharmacists Association of Niagara on the regional vaccination task force, is anxious to get started administering vaccinations, and many NOTL residents will be happy to see that happen.
All three pharmacies in NOTL, along with others in the region, are hoping to be included on the provincial list of those to deliver vaccinations.
“If we have the opportunity, we’ll be ready,” says Simpson.
He expects they will receive the AstraZeneca, which seems headed to pharmacies, and is a little easier to handle as far as refrigeration.
Pharmacies will receive $13 from the province for each vaccination, but it’s not a money-maker, with the time involved and the cost of supplies, including personal protective equipment and syringes, he says.
He expects pharmacies will also have to set up their own online booking system, to link to the provincial site.
“Pharmacies are a very safe space for vaccinations,” he says. “We’re looking forward to being onboard as soon as we can, but the timing is up to the province.”
He says in the meantime he would encourage people to get vaccinated as soon as possible, “no matter where.”
Dr. Mustafa Hirji says the region is pushing the province to include Niagara pharmacies as the number of sites is expanded.
He says the region is “lobbying hard” to be a location where pharmacies and primary care clinics get more vaccines.
He is “obviously disappointed” Niagara has not been included in the regions now receiving vaccines for pharmacies, but hopes that will change soon.
“I’m hoping we don’t see a repeat, that it takes another month,” he said, referring to the delay in receiving vaccines from the province earlier this year.
“We’re one of 13 hotspots in the province. I hope in the next round of pharmacies and primary health care clinics, we’ll be included.”