Inside the fast-paced world of pharmacies racing to vaccinate Albertans

Across Alberta, pharmacists are vaccinating as many Albertans as possible as quickly as they can.

Katrina Wilson-Kubota and Heather Snook co-own a pharmacy in Spruce Grove, which began getting COVID-19 vaccine shipments on April 12.

The duo said they have been fielding constant phone calls, administering vaccinations while handling regular pharmacy duties.

“It’s definitely different. It’s busy. People always calling and asking to be put on a wait list, asking what vaccine we have,” Snook said.

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Snook is a registered pharmacy technician and Wilson-Kubota is a pharmacist, solely in charge of vaccinating.

“As a pharmacist, I have a lot of other duties too. My every day patients still need prescriptions filled.

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“Sometimes it’s exhausting. Your body is tired, but the satisfaction of being front-line with the vaccine distribution is really satisfying,” Wilson-Kubota said. “That’s why I am in the job. I want to help people.”

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The duo said the first few days of immunizations were overwhelming.

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“It was organized chaos. We tried to do too much in the first couple of days,” Snook said. “We realized after the second day, we couldn’t keep that pace going.”

The staff of two have been booked solid. As of Thursday, Wilson-Kubota has vaccinated about 200 people.

“I’ve had people that were so happy… they were ecstatic,” she said. “I had a lady who said, ‘I really want to hug you…but I can’t!’”

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As a pharmacist for more than 15 years, Wilson-Kubota said she has also acted as a force against vaccine misinformation.

“I know people were nervous. But, one of the things that’s really important to me is to educate myself and then educate my patients about what I’ve learned,” she said.

“I’m always checking that I am on top of that information.”

Snook said she is part of a Facebook group made up of other pharmacy technicians and pharmacists.

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“They are feeling pressure as well. We just want to get as many people in as we can. There’s also a little bit of frustration that the vaccine isn’t consistently arriving.”

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“Yeah, I’m tired. But I’m happy I’m tired,” Snook laughed. “We are all living history. I am so happy and proud to be a pharmacy that offers the COVID-19 vaccine.”

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This duo is humbled to play a small part in history.

“It is a momentous event. It’s a time we will look back on and reflect on how much we’ve gained and how far we’ve come,” Wilson-Kubota said. “To be part of that is a real honour.”

Global Edmonton’s “Health-Care Heroes” series highlights people in Edmonton doing amazing things during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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