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Metro Vancouverites react to AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine rollout in pharmacies

"How the hell do you book an AstraZeneca vaccine?"
Pharmacies across the Lower Mainland continue to be inundated with a high volume of requests for COVID-19 vaccines.

Pharmacies across the Lower Mainland continue to be inundated with a high volume of requests for vaccines after the B.C. government approved pharmacists to deliver the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine.

The COVID-19 AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine is  available to people aged 55-65 living in the Lower Mainland thanks to a partnership between Immunize BC and community pharmacists.

AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD does not have the same storage requirements as other vaccines, so it may be more easily transported and delivered.

But the pharmacy rollout has encountered a few hurdles. 

London Drugs vaccine rollout 

London Drugs opened up online appointment bookings Monday after the province announced a limited additional supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Those aged 55 to 65 can visit the online booking system and follow the prompts to find available appointments. 

However, Chris Chiew, General Manager of Pharmacy for London Drugs, tells Vancouver Is Awesome in a statement that the company only has 2,200 doses spread through 20 stores. As a result, he expects that "there will be a waitlist created online."

People will only be served on a first-come first-served basis online, adds Chiew. "We will not be taking any appointments or waitlist via phone.

"More appointments will open up as we receive more vaccine.  We won’t know if we receive more until later this week," he notes. 

Previously, London Drugs urged British Columbians not to phone the chain’s pharmacies to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments after being “inundated” by calls.

Shoppers Drug Mart vaccine rollout 

A spokesperson for Loblaw Companies Ltd., the parent company of Shoppers Drug Mart, tells V.I.A. that the company continues to see a high demand at its pharmacies, which demonstrates "the important role pharmacists play in delivering convenient and accessible healthcare to British Columbia residents."

Currently, select Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaw pharmacy locations in the Lower Mainland have a "very limited supply" of vaccines. These locations will continue to vaccinate those 55 to 65 years of age, by appointment only.

"We encourage all eligible and interested residents to call or visit a participating store to book an appointment."

Here is what some locals are saying about the vaccine rollout in Lower Mainland pharmacies. 

This map shows every pharmacy offering COVID-19 vaccines in Metro Vancouver 

Of the initial pharmacies that are part of the pharmacy vaccine rollout, some locations may allow for drop-in service. You will be required to bring your Personal Health Number, located on your CareCard or BC Services Card.

The selection of pharmacies is updated regularly and more pharmacies may be added in the coming weeks.

With files from Nelson Bennett, Tyler Orton and Ian Jacques.