Pfizer, Moderna vaccines expanded to dozens of Ontario hot spot pharmacies as AstraZeneca supply dwindles
TORONTO -- The Ontario government is expanding its pharmacy vaccine rollout by bringing Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna into dozens of pharmacies heavily impacted by COVID-19 for people 18 years of age and older.
So far, 78 pharmacies in Toronto and Peel Region are offering Pfizer, while Moderna is going to 60 pharmacies in York Region, Durham Regions, Hamilton, Windsor-Essex and Ottawa. Locations can be accessed online.
“Specifically targeting the hardest hit areas, hopefully raise the vaccination rates and provide even more reasons for people to get vaccinated,” said Justin Bates with the Ontario Pharmacists Association.
Ramon Lawrence, an essential worker, said he struggled booking his shot through the provincial system, but managed to get a walk-in appointment Saturday in Toronto’s Weston neighbourhood at Friendly Care West King Pharmacy.
“I feel great and hopefully this is all over soon,” he said.
The pharmacy received 144 Pfizer doses Friday and expected all online and walk-in appointments to be filled by the end of Saturday. Owner and pharmacist Mina Maseh said they can be stored in a regular fridge for up to five days.
“We’ve lost some of our own patients here due to COVID so we want to make sure our area is served first,” Maseh said.
“It’s the most satisfying time in my career. We feel humbled and very fortunate to be doing this for our patients.”
The rollout of mRNA vaccines comes as the Ontario pharmacist association says 97 per cent of the AstraZeneca supply that went out to pharmacies has been used up.
As part of its rollout to pharmacies in March and April, Ava Pharmacy in mid-town Toronto received 600 doses. Word mRNA vaccines are available in pharmacies has created a lot of interest.
“The phone calls can be two lines ringing at the same time so if I’m chatting or taking with someone giving counselling I can’t even get any of the lines,” said owner Manal Kelada.
The Ontario Pharmacists Association said it and the Ontario Ministry of Health hope to see Pfizer and Moderna in all pharmacies, but it’s not clear when and if the doses will arrive.
Kelada believes she will be getting Pfizer doses in the near future and in meantime is encouraging people to keep checking if it’s available.
“Further expansion of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in the pharmacy channel will continue through May,” said a government news release on Wednesday.
According to the latest information from Ottawa, two million of Pfizer doses are expected to be delivered through May with more coming in June, along with one million doses of Modern expected the week of May 17.
At least 655,000 doses of Astra Zeneca are expected to come from Canada’s COVAX contract before the end of the month, and another one million from the main AstraZeneca contract in June.