Sean Simpson began vaccinating people over 55 years of age Monday, with 400 doses of AstraZeneca he has received to divide between his Virgil and King Street pharmacies.
Premier Doug Ford said last Thursday a shipment of 583,400 of the 1.5 million doses that arrived in Canada will be shipped to 700 pharmacies, with about 350 new locations added to the 300 that were already offering vaccinations.
Of those, 22 are in Niagara. In Niagara-on-the-Lake, Simpson’s PharmaSave on Niagara Stone Road and Simpson’s Apothecary on King Street were the only ones included in that list.
The age group for pharmacy vaccinations has been lowered from 60 years of age and over to those 55 and over.
Although the information for making appointments is available on the provincial online booking system, some pharmacists, such as Simpson, have been collecting names on a waiting list, to be ready to move quickly once they receive vaccines.
Simpson says those who have already added their names to his waiting list don’t need to register again. He is going through the names in sequence, beginning with those who registered last February, sorting through those haven’t yet received their vaccination elsewhere and are eligible.
Those who were first to put their names on Simpson’s list when it was made available on line Feb. 9 can expect to hear soon, through email.
For every 50 emails he sends, he gets back requests for about 25 appointments, he says.
Eleven people were vaccinated in Virgil Monday, and 10 at the downtown apothecary.
Simpson was aiming for 40 appointments Tuesday, although he wasn’t planning on ramping up the King Street location quite so quickly.
With a total of 400 doses, and 3,500 names on his list, those who registered recently might be waiting a while, he said.
By Thursday, he expects to be ordering more vaccine, and hoping it will be delivered.
He was hearing from some people that they were hesitant about AstraZeneca, and preferred to wait for a community clinic where they would receive Pfizer or Moderna, but he also talked to someone who received AstraZeneca at a Public Health clinic.
“The lines seem to be a little blurred now,” he says.
He encourages anyone who has an opportunity to be vaccinated at one of the community clinics, or anywhere else, to take whatever is offered first.
“I wouldn’t discourage anyone from looking elsewhere,” he says.
“The message we sent out was for those who have an opportunity to get vaccinated anywhere, to take it. The primary goal is to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”
Older people will have other options, as more community clinics are scheduled, he says.
People who are eligible to attend a Public Health clinic should take those appointments, which will open up more spots for others at pharmacies.
AstraZeneca is not available to those under 55, and everyone has to make the best decision for themselves, he says, adding, ‘the best advice is to get the first vaccine available to you.”
He has 10 trained staff able to administer the doses, and says the ability to get shots in arms is not the limiting factor — it’s the time-consuming job of filling out the necessary documentation to report to the province that will be the challenge.
Niagara residents 70 or older in 2021 (born in 1951 or earlier) can book an appointment online at Ontario.ca/bookvaccine or by calling 1-888-999-6488. Residents can book an appointment at any clinic across Niagara.
For those 55 or older, Ontario.ca/bookvaccine will direct residents to the pharmacies nearest them.
Niagara pharmacies offering vaccinations:
Simpson’s Apothecary – 223 King Street
Simpson’s Pharmacy – 1882 Niagara Stone Road
Shoppers Drug Mart – 3701 Portage Road, Unit 1
Costco Pharmacy – 7500 Pin Oak Drive
WalMart Pharmacy – 7481 Oakwood Drive
Shoppers Drug Mart – 5125 Montrose Road
Boggio and MacKinnon Pharmacy – 6680 Drummond Road
Rexall – 6485 Lundy’s Lane
Shoppers Drug Mart – Seaway Mall (H2-800 Niagara Street North)
Shoppers Drug Mart – 595 South Pelham Road
Loblaw Pharmacy – 821 Niagara Street North
Rexall – 399 King Street
Shoppers Drug Mart – 1-387 Scott Street
WalMart Pharmacy – 420 Vansickle Road
Loblaw Pharmacy – 221 Glendale Ave.
Rexall – 310-C Garrison Road
Crescent Park Pharmacy – 5-1264 Garrison Road
Shoppers Drug Mart – 43 St. Andrews Ave., Unit 1
Boggio Pharmacy Ltd – 200 Catharines St.
Boggio & Edwards Ridgeway IDA – 307 Ridge Road N
Rexall – 4486 Ontario Street
RX Drug Mart – 144 Griffin Street
Recently added Niagara Public Health clinics:
April 11 to 12 Niagara Falls: MacBain Community Centre
April 13 to14 Port Colborne: Vale Health and Wellness Centre
April 15 to 16 Grimsby: Niagara West YMCA
April 17 to 18 Welland: Niagara Centre YMCA