People between the ages of 55 and 65 who wish to receive their first dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine can now book an appointment at some pharmacies on Vancouver Island and around B.C.
Pharmacies participating in the vaccination program can be found in Greater Victoria, Sooke, Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach. A full list of pharmacies can be found here.
“Distribution of vaccine is ongoing and will be delivered to pharmacies based on when supply arrives,” the B.C. Pharmacy Association says on its vaccine rollout website.
Vikram Bawa, owner of Fort Royal Pharmacy in Victoria, said he learned on Thursday his business would receive a shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine — 400 doses, to be exact.
“It has been a big rush on our websites, and our phone has been ringing,” he said. “We’ve been booking people to get them in as quickly as possible.”
Among that group was Mary Graydon, the Oak Bay resident eagerly strolled into the pharmacy Friday afternoon to get her shot.
“I am so relieved. I have a chronic lung issue, so I think a lot of my fear and dread is going to be lessened” Graydon said.
According to Bawa as of early Friday afternoon, 250 people between the ages of 55-65 had signed up.
He said he knows there has been some “fear” around the AstraZeneca vaccine because of rare reports of blood clots in younger people getting vaccinated in Europe.
In late March, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended pausing use of the vaccine in people under 55 because of the reports, but Bawa said the benefits outweigh the risks.
“They have administered around 9.2-million doses so far in Europe, and only 32 cases have been found with clots,” he said. “It’s better to be safe than to be not safe.”
Diane Segal, who was among those getting a shot Friday, said she weighed the risk, but felt it was worth it.
“It’s what I wanted to do and were the right age group so I think we should get out there and save the other vaccines for the other people that have to use them.” Segal said.
Pharmacies that offer online booking are asking eligible people to try using their website before calling in.
Those who show up for an appointment will be required to bring their Personal Health Number.
See a map of all participating clinics below, provided by the B.C. Pharmacy Association.