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COVID-19 vaccinations available at more pharmacies across Prescott-Russell, province says AstraZeneca is for second dose only

The situation is improving for local residents hoping to receive their COVID-19 vaccination at a pharmacy.

Vankleek Hill Pharmacy is receiving the Moderna vaccine. Pharmacist-owner George Gabra said the doses were to begin arriving on May 21 and during the week beginning May 23.

“Appointments are highly recommended,” said Gabra.

The reason Gabra recommended individuals make appointments at the pharmacy for their vaccination is to conserve the vaccine doses. He does not want to risk having vials opened for one or two people and possibly going to waste if they need to be stored and the rest of the doses in them are not used.

Vankleek Hill Pharmacy customers have been finding out about vaccinations being offered at their local drugstore through advertising, notices posted at the door of the store, and through conversation with pharmacy employees.

“We’re trying to get awareness of it,” Gabra said.

Vankleek Hill Pharmacy is part of the PharmaChoice/PharmaChoix drugstore chain. To book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment at the Vankleek Hill Pharmacy, go to https://www.pharmachoice.com/book/ or call the store at 613-678-2201. PharmaChoice/PharmaChoix drugstores in Alfred and Plantagenet are also offering COVID-19 vaccinations.

Gabra said on the afternoon of Friday, May 21, there were already names on the appointment list for COVID-19 vaccinations at the Vankleek Hill Pharmacy.

The following pharmacies in Prescott and Russell counties and in North Glengarry are also providing COVID-19 vaccinations using the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines:

Alexandria

Shoppers Drug Mart

Embrun

Shoppers Drug Mart

Hawkesbury

Drugstore Pharmacy (located in Asselin Independent Grocer)

Rockland

Drugstore Pharmacy (located inside Independent Grocer)

Rockland Pharmacy

Shoppers Drug Mart

AstraZeneca for second doses only

Originally, pharmacies in Ontario were offering the AstraZeneca vaccine. However, the Ontario Ministry of Health removed it from first dose use on May 11 due to concerns after some people who received the vaccine developed sometimes fatal blood clots.

On Friday, May 21, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts announced it is proceeding with second dose administration of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, beginning with those who received their first dose of the vaccine between March 10 and March 19, 2021.

For a limited time during the week of May 24, individuals who received their first dose of AstraZeneca during the period of March 10, 2021 to March 19, 2021 may opt for an earlier dose interval of 10 weeks with informed consent. Choosing to receive the second dose of AstraZeneca at the 10-week interval is safe and provides strong protection against COVID-19. This opportunity is being made available to ensure every vaccine dose possible is used to protect Ontarians during the effective delivery period.

Eligible individuals are encouraged to contact the pharmacy or primary care provider where they received their first dose and can book an appointment beginning the week of May 24. This will begin in the regions where the AstraZeneca vaccine was initially launched in pharmacies in March 2021. Primary care settings and pharmacies may also be reaching out to eligible Ontarians.

Nearly one million Ontarians aged 40 and over received the AstraZeneca vaccine as their first dose between March 10, 2021 and May 11, 2021. Data from the UK strongly suggests a much-reduced risk of blood clots in second doses of AstraZeneca – one in 600,000. Based on this evidence, the province is committed to ensuring Ontarians who received the AstraZeneca vaccine for their first dose, and who do not receive their second dose at the 10-week interval during the week of May 24, will have the ability to receive a second dose of AstraZeneca within the recommended interval of 12 weeks. The province is working with primary care providers and pharmacies to ensure second dose appointments are scheduled in advance of the 12-week interval and will provide further information on how individuals who received their first dose of AstraZeneca can book a second dose appointment in the near future.

The province is also looking closely at available data and evidence from a clinical trial in the UK evaluating the administration of two doses of different vaccines and has requested direction from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). At this time, NACI does not recommend that vaccines of different types (e.g., mRNA vaccine and viral vector vaccine) be used in the two-dose series, as data on the immune response following mixed vaccine schedules are not yet available. Further information from clinical trials and NACI’s recommendation are anticipated to be available in June 2021.

The province will provide further guidance with respect to administering doses of two different vaccines in the near future and in advance of the 12-week interval when most people are needing to receive their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. When the time comes to receive a second dose, everyone who received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine will receive either an AstraZeneca or mRNA vaccine for their second dose.

As more Ontarians receive a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with over 7.7 million doses administered to date, providing the second dose of the vaccine will offer the best protection possible against COVID-19 and variants, and support provincial vaccination targets as part of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen.

 

James Morgan

James Morgan is a freelance contributor. He has worked for several print and broadcast media outlets. James loves the history, natural beauty, and people of eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

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