Pharmacists in Virden and Reston are preparing to administer the COVID-19 immunization late next week. Virden Drugs and Reston Drugs and Virden Super Thrifty have not yet received the 50 doses each that they are expecting. There’s age and health qualifications for eligibility and a protocol to get an appointment. Pharmacists hope the public will have patience with the process.
Pharmacy manager for Virden Drugs, Divyesh, says he is prepared to vaccinate people as soon as there is product available, however he says a shortage of the vaccine means it will be March 17 before the product arrives in Virden. Virden Drugs has a room that has been used for the yearly influenza immunization and that is where the COVID-19 immunization will take place.
Reston pharmacist Jennifer Whyte is also preparing the physical layout of her pharmacy to accommodate distancing.
The vaccine that is being sent to pharmacies is AstraZeneca/Covishield vaccine. It is not an mRNA product like Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. AstraZeneca is a product approved for 18 – 64 year-olds, so with a limited supply, the initial roll-out of the vaccine will be for people between 50 and 64, and there’s a list of qualifications within that age category.
There’s a long list of qualifying criteria says Whyte, adding that she wants to have an online booking system set up before taking appointments.
“We’re working with an online booking platform. They are going to create an online questionnaire. It puts it in laymen’s terms and helps me to sort through the qualifier.
“I have a nurse practitioner coming to help me on March 19.” Both Whyte and the nurse will administer the injection. The store will have an extra pharmacist on duty that day, as will Virden Drugs.
For Super Thrifty Drugs, pharmacist Mike Anderson said he is expecting to receive the vaccine product by March 11, but it may be March 15 before vaccines are available in his pharmacy.
This round of product has an expiration date of April 2, so no second doses will be withheld. Second dose booster shots can be given four to 12 weeks later says Anderson. Although it does not need to be frozen, there is a cold chain tracking procedure to ensure the product has stayed within temperature guidelines.
Anderson says that within their clientele records the pharmacy knows who will qualify. “We will start contacting our patients.”
However, Virden pharmacies will keep a list of those who call or send emails.
Pharmacies receive remuneration for their vaccine service, but it’s not a lot and Anderson says “It’s about pharmacies wanting to help.” For the process of qualifying each patient, the time to administer the vaccine and the follow-up paper/information trail that is sent to the province, it amounts to about $20 per person.
Post-vaccine monitoring requires at least15 minutes and the pharmacies are prepared with anaphylaxis (allergic reaction) medication on site.
Priority 1 qualifying conditions include a broad range of conditions including kidney diseases (dialysis), heart and/or lung issues, cerebral vascular accidents, blood diseases, those on chemotherapy, sever obesity, and Down syndrome. There’s also a category for pregnant women with certain conditions.
Details can be found here: manitoba.ca/covid19/vaccine/eligibility-criteria.html#clinics-pharmacies
Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead, Vaccine Implementation Task Force advises people to be vaccinated and also said, “Once people get the vaccine, it is important to continue to follow public health measures, because we do not yet know whether or not COVID-19 may still be able to spread to others even if you have been vaccinated and do not get sick.”
Pop-up COVID-19 vaccinationsites are launching in rural and northern Manitoba communities, beginning next week.
People who are currently eligible for the vaccine at a super site can now make an appointment at a site in a community close to them to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.
Starting March 11, appointments can be made by calling the vaccine call centre (toll-free) at 1-844-626-8222 (1-844-MAN-VACC) from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. People are asked to have their health card ready when they call.
“When people call to make an appointment, they will be told if there is a pop-up clinic available and the call centre will work with them to find a clinic close to home,” said Johanu Botha, operations lead, Vaccine Implementation Task Force. “We are committed to creating opportunities for people to be immunized as soon as possible, by making it convenient. Our plans for pop-up sites will continue in the weeks ahead, as long as we have supply, to bring the vaccine closer to more Manitobans.”
The nearest pop-up clinics in March 10th information are at Portage and pilot Mound.