CALGARY — It’s the moment Alberta millennials have been waiting for as thousands upon thousands signed up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday.
By 11 a.m. Thursday, more than 100,000 Albertans born in 1991 or earlier booked their appointments, including 30-year-old Rachel Antony from Calgary.
All appointments are made for either the Pfizer or Moderna product.
“It reminded me of when you were buying concert tickets and you’re panicking because you know that other people are doing it and so I got in on a pharmacy near where I live,” she said.
“I thought because I’m 30 and healthy that I would take much longer, so I was pumped that we could sign up for it.”
Antony won’t receive her shot until June 1, like many other millennials who will have to wait anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month and half for their appointment, due to limited supply.
The news of expanded eligibility however is welcome for teacher who look forward to getting their younger students back in the classroom for in-person learning on a more regular basis.
Lawrence Boardman, who is a 51-year-old power engineering professor at SAIT got his vaccine Thursday.
“It’ll open up the doors because right now we’re running with restricted numbers in a classroom, so maybe now it will open it up so we can get more students into a classroom and closer back to our full class sizes,” he said.
“I think it’s really important the rollout is happening, it’s starting to pick up and get a lot faster, and I think it’s the best way that we’re going to move forward from this.”
As pharmacies become overwhelmed with phone calls and on their online portals to book vaccination appointments, there are limits to how many shots can be given due to supply concerns.
Neil Devchand, who owns Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Calgary says pharmacists are dealing with scheduling challenges because of supply, but also because of expiry dates on the Pfizer vaccine.
Each of his pharmacies are expected to receive upwards of 250 doses of Pfizer each week which need to be used within a five day time frame.
“It’s thawed it’s only good for five days at fridge temperature, so we do have to utilize that vaccine within that period, but we have to take into consideration our bookings just about start at that point as well,” Devchand said.
“There’s transportation requirements and reconstitution requirements, we also have to be careful trying to get that sixth dose out of the vial.”
Reconstitution is the process of opening the Pfizer vaccine and properly mixing it. Once that process takes place, pharmacist have anywhere from two hours to inject doses if the vaccine is kept at room temperature and six hours if it is kept refrigerated.
As a result, if appointments are cancelled, a last-minute booking must take place to ensure doses don’t go to waste.
Devchand hopes that supply will be sufficient enough so that first and second doses of the vaccine can roll out as soon as possible.
“We have been promised that the majority of people 12 and above will be vaccinated by the end of June, but we’re at the whims of the supply chain, so we can definitely handle much more vaccine, but the amount governs how fast this happens.”
According to the latest date, Alberta has administered 1.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine and 305,000 people are fully immunized.
As of May 3, Alberta has received 1.1 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech along with 370,000 doses of Moderna and 270,000 doses of AstraZeneca.
According to Health Canada, Alberta is expected to receive shipments of around 236,000 doses of Pfizer each week until the end of May and subsequently weekly shipments of 281,000 Pfizer doses each week in the month of May.
A shipment of 31,000 Moderna doses is expected to come on the week of May 10 to 16.
The Johnson & Johnson supply that arrived earlier in the week is being held by Health Canada due to a potential quality control issue.
Alberta’s allocation of those doses were originally scheduled to be sent to the province’s COVID-19 hot sports, Banff and Fort McMurray in the Wood Buffalo region, along with Alberta’s available AstraZenaca supply.
Canada has not yet confirmed when it will receive another shipment of AstraZeneca.
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