Nearly 3 dozen Ottawa pharmacies to get COVID-19 vaccine doses, says association

Thirty-four pharmacies in Ottawa are slated to soon receive doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine and could be offering shots as soon as next week, according to the Ontario Pharmacists Association.

34 locations have been selected for 2nd phase of their pilot program

Thirty-four Ottawa pharmacies will be receiving doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine as the province's pilot program expands to phase two, according to the head of the Ontario Pharmacists Association. (Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images)

Thirty-four pharmacies in Ottawa are slated to soon receive doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine and could be offering shots as soon as next week, according to the Ontario Pharmacists Association.

Those pharmacies are in the process of signing user agreements as part of the second phase of the vaccine pilot project, association CEO Justin Bates told CBC News on Sunday.

An announcement about which specific pharmacies were chosen is expected sometime this week, Bates said.

The selection process was made with equity in mind, he added, and included considerations like whether the pharmacies were independent or part of a corporation, as well as where they're geographically located. 

"We certainly liaised with the local public health unit to see where the clusters of outbreaks are happening, so we would have good coverage of stores in those areas — as well as in areas like Orléans and other regions around Ottawa," Bates said.

The federal government is expected to receive 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine on Tuesday, and Bates said pharmacies in Ottawa could have doses anywhere from five to 14 days after that. 

Justin Bates, the CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, says the hope is all pharmacies in the province can distribute vaccines but it all depends on supply. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

"It's a bit of a guess at this point," Bates said, explaining the shipment needs to be on time and then distributed to the individual provinces, before the doses make their way to pharmacy wholesalers. 

"But we're getting close." 

Mayor highlights Ottawa's unique geographic needs

The first phase of the pharmacy rollout, for eligible Ontarians age 60 and above, is limited to pharmacies in only three health units — including Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health, the one closest to Ottawa.

Last week, Mayor Jim Watson wrote to the province asking for Ottawa pharmacies to also receive doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, saying the city has unique geographic challenges. 

Our city is 2,600 square kilometres, and, you know, we can fit the cities of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, all within our boundaries," Watson told a news conference on March 25.

"We need more distribution points."

Watson, Egli ask province to bring pharmacy vaccine pilot to Ottawa

CBC News Ottawa

2 months ago
Mayor Jim Watson, Coun. Keith Egli wrote to Ontario health minister about Ottawa’s unique geographic challenges in distributing vaccines. 1:30

In a weekend statement, the mayor said he hasn't yet received a response from the province to the letter, but a list of 143 pharmacies willing to distribute the vaccine had been given to Ottawa Public Health.

Ontario's Ministry of Health would not confirm to CBC whether Ottawa pharmacies would be receiving vaccine supply, but did say in a statement 350 locations across the province would be brought online "in the near future." 

Bates said as more vaccine supply becomes available, he's hopeful phase three of the vaccine program can start — meaning more and more pharmacies will be able to distribute vaccines. 

"The shared objective from day one has been to get all pharmacies on-boarded," he said.

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