Pharmacies on P.E.I. see 'disappointing' drop in AstraZeneca vaccine appointments
Link to blood clots, though rare, making some people hesitant, pharmacist says
After a "wonderful turnout" in the first few days of administering the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine last week, pharmacists on P.E.I. are reporting a significant drop in appointments.
Twelve pharmacies on P.E.I. began offering the AstraZeneca vaccine April 12 to Island residents 55 and older.
Rebecca Dunn, pharmacy manager at Murphy's in Cornwall, said the first few days were fully booked, with about 65 vaccines administered a day.
"Today I'm doing a clinic and I have 65 availabilities but unfortunately I only had 30 appointments. So it definitely has slowed down," she said in an interview Wednesday with CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin.
"It is a little disappointing."
The Cornwall pharmacy received 500 doses, and has used about 360. The doses expire at the end of May, Dunn said. More doses are due in time for people to get their second shots in 12 weeks.
Dunn said some people are hesitant to get the AstraZeneca vaccine because of the risk of blood clots, though she emphasizes the risk is very low.
"There are all sorts of vaccine-hesitant people," she said.
"There are those people who are hesitant to get any type of vaccine. There are those people who want to get a vaccine but they're hesitant because they think they can't because of certain medical conditions or certain medications, and then there are those who are hesitant specifically about the AstraZeneca vaccine because of the risk of blood clots."
She said there are risks with all medications, and pharmacists can help customers weigh those risks and answer questions about side-effects. AstraZeneca, like all vaccines available on P.E.I., has been approved by Health Canada.
"This is a large scale, worldwide vaccination rollout so you are going to see these rare adverse events and they are going to be under very high scrutiny."
One of the benefits of AstraZeneca is that the wait time to receive an appointment is weeks shorter than with other vaccines.
"If you can get a vaccination sooner, then the more protected you are."
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With files from CBC News: Compass