At least a couple of central Alberta pharmacies are being impacted by COVID-19 vaccine supply issues.
On Thursday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said pharmacies that offer the Moderna vaccine are being affected after the supply was “cut by more than half and delayed.”
“This is a function … that our vaccine supply is part of a global system. There’s demand around the world for these vaccines and manufacturers are working hard to keep up with that demand but there are unforeseen circumstances,” she said.
Hinshaw said the government is working with pharmacy partners and Alberta Health Services to adjust supply and allocation “as best as possible” to ensure Albertans in every part of the province have access to a vaccine.
Jackson’s Pharmasave, in Innisfail, which offers the Moderna vaccine, has had to turn down people looking to be vaccinated. It has also had to reschedule vaccination appointments.
“We’re just getting limited supply right at the moment,” said pharmacy owner Brent Jackson.
“It’s not a huge volume and I think (the provincial government is) kind of working with the best they’ve got, but it would be nice to get more vaccines so we can vaccinate all the people phoning and asking.”
It’s a “frustrating” situation for the public and the workers, Jackson added.
Ravi Panchal, manager at the Blackfalds Pharmachoice, which also offers the Moderna vaccine, said supply has been limited recently.
“Initially we got 300 doses. At that time were supposed to get 300 doses every week, but then it cut down to 100 doses every three weeks. Right now they’re not sure how many doses they’re going to supply. This week and next week, there’s no forecast or anything,” said Panchal.
A pharmacy will receive a number of vaccine doses based on how many appointments it’s booking, Panchal explained.
“For example, if we’re reporting 10 or 20 vaccine appointments a day, they think you’re not required any more doses and won’t provide additional vaccines. But if anyone is reporting like 300 every week or something like that, then they’re getting the vaccines.”
While the supply is shorter at the moment, the pharmacy has not had to cancel any appointments. Panchal said he doesn’t anticipate any future appointments will be cancelled either, but he hopes the government will provide a clearer picture on exactly how many vaccine doses will be available.
Doug Haigham, pharmacy manager at the Red Deer London Drugs, which offers the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, said the pharmacy was having supply issues last week but has since rebounded.
“For us, things are looking good. There was a bit of a blip last week, but it stabilized and moving forward we are pretty stable,” said Haigham.
“We were told our allotment was going to decrease, then it decreased for a week, but it’s now increased back to normal again.”
The return to the normal allotment saved the pharmacy from having to cancel “a lot of appointments,” said Haigham.
“We had one day we had to reschedule appointments, but other than that it wasn’t too bad,” he said.
To see pharmacies provided COVID-19 vaccinations, visit www.ab.bluecross.ca.