London Drugs has opened up online appointment booking for 55 to 65-year-olds to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
The announcement was made on Monday afternoon and comes shortly after the provincial government announced an additional supply of the vaccine.
According to a statement from London Drugs, approximately 2,200 vaccinations are being distributed to 20 locations in the Lower Mainland. Additional supply is also expected in the coming weeks.
“Patients will now be able to join a waitlist on a first-come-first-serve basis so that when vaccine inventory is depleted, they will be notified when more appointments become available,” says London Drugs.
People registered will also be notified if there are “no shows” to previously booked appointments. The company says that “everyone wanting a vaccine must go through the same online booking system.”
“We are doing everything we can to quickly respond to changing vaccine supply and help the government ensure a widespread, easily accessible and equitable vaccination campaign as we do every year for flu,” said Chris Chiew, General Manager of Pharmacy at London Drugs.
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The launch of London Drugs’ online booking system comes after the messy rollout of BC’s pharmacy vaccination program that took place last week.
The Ministry of Health announced that Lower Mainland residents between 55 and 65-years-old would be able to call and book an appointment to receive an AstraZeneca or COVISHIELD vaccination.
Some participating pharmacies, however, ran out of available appointments before the booking window had even opened.
A pharmacy employee in North Vancouver told Daily Hive that phone lines were flooded since the announcement was made on Tuesday afternoon.
“They’re clogging up the phone lines so people who are actually trying to refill their prescriptions can’t reach us,” they told Daily Hive. “We have to gatekeep and check if they’re just asking about the COVID-19 vaccine or if they actually need to talk to the pharmacy.”
“We found out the same day as everyone else, through the news articles posted… That’s when all the calls started flooding in. We were given zero information, no heads up, no vaccines, no booking system.”
Last week, health officials also announced that they were pausing the AstraZeneca vaccination program for frontline workers until further notice. The decision comes shortly after the use of the vaccine was postponed for those under the age of 55 due to rare blood clots following its use.
“Our worker program that was to start next week as we received more of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be put on pause for now,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry explained during a conference.
“We’re going to need to regroup, and we will come back early next week as soon as we have more information to determine how we are going to move forward with that program.”