COVID-19 vaccines have arrived at Vernon pharmacies Friday.
Nolan’s Pharmasave on 30th Avenue is one of four pharmacies in the city to receive doses of AstraZeneca April 9, the others being the Polson Park and 27th Street Shoppers Drug Marts and the Superstore Pharmasave on Anderson Way.
At Nolan’s, the shots are available to anyone aged 55 to 65 as long as it’s their first dose. Pharmacist and partner Will Bely said people can call Nolan’s at 250-542-4181 (ext. 1) to book an appointment, but added he expects the 200 vaccines that were supplied on short notice will run out soon.
“All we’ve been doing today is answering phone calls and booking appointments so I’m thinking in a couple of hours we’re going to have them all booked,” he told the Morning Star early Friday afternoon.
Vaccines are beginning to reach arms outside of the public health stream. Under Phase 2, Interior Health (IH) is currently administering shots for the general public ages 80 and up.
The province is looping pharmacies into the overall vaccine rollout, providing shots directly to pharmacies without IH involvement. But with demand outweighing supply the local pharmacy rollout appears to be a bit of a scramble. Bely said he received a call on Wednesday asking if the pharmacy was interested in getting vaccines. He was then told the vaccines “may” arrive in a few days.
“It was a vague call,” he said. “We knew it was supposed to come but we weren’t sure until this morning when it did actually show up.”
The team then scrambled to set up a vaccination clinic, and Bely says to help ensure social distancing the pharmacy will be run as a clinic on Sunday, and everyone who booked a vaccine will get their shot done in a single block of time.
Bely’s team doesn’t know when their vaccine supply will be replenished. Meanwhile, down the street at Pivot Rx, co-founder Josh Brady says the fledgling pharmacy is unsure when it will receive its first batch.
He says that’s because the distribution is being based on the 2019 flu season, and they weren’t in business at the time.
“That’s what they did on the coast for their initial rollout, they just picked the highest volume flu shot providers to get (vaccines) as soon as possible,” Brady said.
Having opened doors during the pandemic, Pivot Rx is set up well for COVID-19 shots, with private consultation rooms that can easily be made into vaccination booths.
B.C. has suspended the use of AstraZeneca for people under age 55 based on guidance from Health Canada and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), because the Cambridge vaccine has resulted in a rare but serious blood clotting event.
“These events are called vaccine-induced prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia (VIPIT) and have happened primarily among women under the age of 55,” the BC Centre for Disease Control website reads. “There have been fewer than 30 cases identified around the world, primarily in Europe.”