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Pilot pharmacy program to deliver COVID vaccine

Posted: March 6, 2021

(March 5, 2021)

By: Antonella Artuso, Toronto Sun

Ontario is moving up its vaccination timelines and beginning a pilot inoculation program at some pharmacies but many questions about when and where people will get their shots remain unanswered.

“We’re recalibrating our timelines now because of the news with respect to (newly-approved) AstraZeneca and the vaccines coming in,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said Thursday. “We expect that our timelines will be reduced overall but I can’t give you a specific date right now.”

The minister said it might be possible for most people to have been vaccinated by the end of the summer.

Elliott confirmed a pilot program will begin next week with the AstraZeneca vaccine delivered at some pharmacies in Windsor-Essex, Toronto and Kingston.

But while public health officials are looking at the issue of vaccinating people who are receiving home care or are unable to stand in line at clinics for their shots, no clear plan has emerged to reach this vulnerable population.

Some jurisdictions have attempted to vaccinate these seniors in their own homes.

The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) has said that many personal support workers in the home care field report they have had no access to a COVID-19 vaccine despite serving fragile clients in multiple homes.

There has also been images online of people aged 80 and older in long line ups in some regions waiting for vaccination, while Toronto’s oldest seniors still don’t have a clear path to inoculation.

Elliott said the province and local public health units is considering various ways to move the vaccine into arms.

“We’re looking at pharmacies to be part of the overall vaccination program in addition to the mass vaccination clinics,” Elliott said, adding primary care offices will also be involved in vaccinations.

The decision of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to allow a four-month gap between the required two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines also helps, she said.

“We can get more first doses into more arms faster and that provides a significant level of protection for people,” Elliott said.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said people who have had COVID-19 should still get the shot, although anyone who suffered through a particularly bad case should wait three months after the onset of symptoms for a dose.

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