Solicitor general asks for patience as Ontarians hoping to book second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine run into issues
Published Tuesday, May 25, 2021 5:35AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 25, 2021 5:48PM EDT
Some Ontarians who are now eligible to receive their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine are complaining about a lack of clarity around the booking process, even as Solicitor General Sylvia Jones urges those awaiting a second jab to “be a little patient.”
The approximately 90,000 people who got their first shot of AstraZeneca between March 10 and March 19 became eligible to book their follow-up appointment on Tuesday but many have already taken to social media to complain after discovering that the pharmacy where they received their first shot is not administering second doses.
One individual even said that she called a dozen GTA pharmacies in search of an appointment after being told that her neighbourhood pharmacy wasn’t being allocated vaccines this time around.
Speaking with CP24 on Tuesday afternoon, Jones said that the province does have “sufficient supply” but will be distributing the vaccine to fewer pharmacies than it did during March’s pilot project as part of a “cluster” approach.
She said that rather than calling pharmacies to book an appointment themselves, those eligible for a second dose should wait to be contacted in the coming days.
“I would wait 24 or 48 hours and then if you have not heard from the pharmacy you originally received your vaccine from then give them a call. But give them the time to proactively reach out. They fully intend to contact all their customers and individuals that received the AstraZeneca dose so give them the opportunity to do that,” she said.
The province suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine earlier this month due to an increased risk of rare blood clots.
But it has resumed the administration of AstraZeneca for second doses only as it rushes to use up 45,000 doses that are set to expire next week and another 10,000 that will expire next month.
Jones told CP24 that there may be “a very small amount” of vaccine that will expire but she said she said that the province does “have a plan in place” to ensure that as many people as possible can get their second doses as possible.
“I am asking people to be a little bit patient,” she said.
Participating pharmacies will be listed on province’s website eventually
The province is only administering second doses of the AstraZeneca to that initial cohort of people who received it at pharmacies in Toronto, Windsor and Kingston but plans to eventually offer second shots to a wider group.
In a statement provided to CP24 on Tuesday afternoon, a spokesperson for Minister of Health Christine Elliott said that pharmacies chosen to administer second doses will be listed on the province’s website when they are ready to accept appointments.
The spokesperson said that “many” pharmacists will reach out proactively to patients to schedule an appointment, however it is not entirely clear what will happen in the case of individuals who received a shot from a pharmacy not offering second doses.
Provincial officials have also aknowledged that demand could outpace supply at first but say that those who do not get an appointment immediately will still be given a chance to receive their second doses as additional shipments arrive.
“Talk to your healthcare provider, talk to your pharmacist to understand where you are in that queue and when you can get booked and be patient," Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said during a briefing on Tuesday afternoon. “The good point is that we have lots of people who are eager to get their second doses.”