Local pharmacies booked up quickly for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Ronan O’Doherty/The News)

Local pharmacies booked up quickly for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Ronan O’Doherty/The News)

Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows pharmacies booked solid for AstraZeneca vaccine

Locally vaccine is available at Shoppers Drug Mart, London Drugs, and Save-On-Foods

Local pharmacies are now dispensing the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

However, securing a spot is going to be the challenge for those aged 55 to 65 in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Save-On-Foods in Pitt Meadows’ outgoing message informs shoppers that their pharmacies “with vaccine allocation” are now fully booked.

“The demand for COVID-19 vaccines far exceeds the supply available to our pharmacies,” said the recording, adding that staff will be notifying the customers online, “as additional vaccines becomes available in the coming weeks.”

The Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday that community pharmacies, in partnership with Immunize BC, would be ready to launch Wednesday, March 31.

“We’re moving ahead with our immunization plan and delivering on our promise to British Columbians to move as quickly as possible, and as safely as possible, to get them the vaccines that they have been waiting patiently for,” said Minister of Health Adrian Dix.

However, none of the smaller pharmacies in the city, are giving out the vaccine.

RELATED: Seniors applaud vaccination efforts

A pharmacist at Alouette Pharmacy is expecting to get vaccine “probably April sometime,” but she didn’t know when.

On Wednesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dix announced a record 1,013 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, bringing the total cases to 100,048 for B.C.

“Frontline workers who were to receive AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD remain a priority,” said the pair in the statement, adding that they are currently waiting on Health Canada’s recommendations to determine what adjustments they may need to make to this immunization stream as a result of safety signal for those younger than 55.

RELATED: B.C.’s frontline worker vaccine program in flux as AstraZeneca use paused for under-55s

In the meantime, they said, the current supply of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine is being made available to people between the ages of 55 and 65 on the Lower Mainland – the highest transmission area.

A statement released by London Drugs said the BC Ministry of Health worked with the BC Pharmacy Association to respond to “an urgent need” to distribute the AstraZeneca vaccine, set to expire on Saturday, April 3. They were told that they could start booking appointments on Wednesday, March 31.

However, once the announcement was made on Tuesday, March 30, their phones began “ringing off the hook.”

“Our three Lower Mainland pharmacies that were allotted vaccines, began taking down patient names and contact information, understanding the government’s first priority was to ensure the most important thing was to make sure all doses were going into people’s arms in the next 48 hours, before they would expire,” read their statement.

And, they said, London Drugs was only allotted 500 doses from around 14,000 that they understand the government had available. So they quickly filled up all the spots they were allotted.

There are 150 pharmacies offering the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine in the Lower Mainland.

Locally the vaccine is being offered at Shoppers Drug Mart, Save On Foods, and London Drugs.

Is there more to the story? Email: cflanagan@mapleridgenews.com

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