A second COVID-19 vaccine could soon be an option at select Ontario pharmacies.
680 NEWS has learned that a pilot project is in the works that would make the Pfizer shot available at certain locations, potentially as early as this week.
Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacist Association, said pharmacies are working with the Ford government on the project that would get the Pfizer vaccine to hot spot pharmacies.
Bates said the initial rollout would just be at locations in Toronto and Peel hot spots and that he is hopeful it will be implemented this week.
“It would be a very limited rollout for the first two weeks,” Bates said. “We would rollout from there into other hot spots and then more broadly across the province.”
Adding the Pfizer shot to pharmacies would require some additional planning surrounding cold storage, but Bates says pharmacies have the capabilities to manage the vaccine. Unlike AstraZeneca, the Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept frozen.
“When it’s thawed it’s good for up to five days in a fridge,” Bates explained. “You just manage your bookings and inventory accordingly.”
No word yet on who would be eligible for the shots.
Bates said the demand for the AstraZeneca shot continues to exceed the supply since age limits were lowered last week. He anticipates the province’s current stock will run out sometime this week with a potential supply interruption on the horizon.
“We’re getting inundated by calls and bookings for the AstraZeneca shot ever since it went down to 40 plus,” Bates stated.
Canada is not expecting any additional AstraZeneca doses this week.
Last week, federal public procurement minister Anita Anand said Canada is in talks with the United States about its AstraZeneca supply after president Joe Biden suggested it might share the shots.
The U.S. has stockpiled tens of millions of AstraZeneca shots but health officials there have not approved the vaccine for use.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has recommended provinces administer the AstraZeneca vaccine to adults aged 30 years old and older but the province says they’re not quite ready to lower the age.
NACI doctors emphasized that each province and region will set its own policy on vaccination.
A spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Health said in a statement they will continue to give the vaccine to people aged 40 and above.
“With approximately 337,000 doses remaining and future shipments not expected until May, we will continue to administer AstraZeneca to individuals 40 and over in pharmacies and primary care settings until we receive an additional supply.”