By Charlie Senack
As COVID-19 vaccination efforts ramp up across the city, more pharmacies in Barrhaven have begun to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine.
On Sunday, April 11, the Ontario government announced that even more pharmacies in Ottawa will start to administer COVID-19 vaccines. The new locations in Barrhaven include:
– Shoppers Drug Mart #1302 at 3151 Strandherd Drive.
– Wal-Mart Pharmacy at 3651 Strandherd Drive.
– Rexall Pharmacy #380 at 106-900 Greenbank Road
– Fallowfield Pharmacy at 1B 3500 Fallowfield Road
– Drugstore Pharmacy #4284 at 3777 Strandherd Drive
– Cedarview Guardian Pharmacy at 12-41 Strandherd Drive
Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod announced the news over Twitter on Sunday saying: “Our government is rapidly increasing capacity with the addition of up to 700 additional pharmacies across the province.”
While Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are only eligible to those 60 and over, the AstraZeneca vaccine which is available in many pharmacies is now for those aged 40 and over.
Vijay Shukla, who owns Cedarview Pharmacy in Barrhaven, says they have received roughly 200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with more on the way hopefully this week. He says all appointments were quickly booked and a waiting list is now in place.
“It has been going good and it has been really busy for us,” said Shukla. “We must have administered over 100 doses so far. We are about half way through what we have so far or maybe a little more than half way.”
Shukla says Cedarview Pharmacy wanted to be among those in the community administering COVID-19 vaccines because it brings hope for the future.
“We wanted to be a part of the initiative which helps us get out of this COVID-19 virus and be helpful to the community,” he told the Barrhaven Independent. “So many people are saying this is hope: It’s one step closer to freedom. People are very excited; they are happy; they are relieved.”
According to Ottawa Public Health, over 284,000 vaccines have been administered in Ottawa – meaning over 25 per cent of residents over 16 years of age have received at least one dose so far. For those in the 60 to 69-year-old category, it’s almost half the eligible population.
To date, Ottawa has received 305,130 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the provincial government, says the health unit.
According to the Government of Canada website, mRNA COVID-19 vaccines —which include Pfizer and Moderna — have demonstrated high efficacy at approximately 94 per cent. The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has demonstrated an average efficacy of approximately 62 per cent in those 18-64 years of age. In adults 65 years of age and older who received one dose of AstraZeneca, real-world observational data of vaccine effectiveness have shown a reduction in the risk of symptomatic disease and hospitalization.
It’s these stark differences in effectiveness which are having many wait to receive a dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines instead of AstraZeneca.
All levels of government are warning against vaccine shopping and say you should take the first one that becomes available. Because so many were waiting, appointments for the AstraZeneca vaccine went unfulfilled leading the Ontario government to lower the eligibility age to 40.
“Get whatever is available and the earlier the better,” said Shukla at Cedarview Pharmacy. “Every day you wait you are more likely to get COVID-19. You would much rather be protected.”
As variants of concern start to run rampant across the province, Shulka says it’s more important now than ever to be protected. But even a COVID-19 vaccine will not fully protect you from the virus.
It takes at least a few weeks for your body to create antibodies which will protect you from getting sick, and takes two doses of the vaccine to become even more protected.
Even after being fully vaccinated you can still contract the novel coronavirus, however your symptoms should be minimal and will not lead to hospitalization or death. You are also still at risk of transmitting the virus to others.
“You are not going to be 100 per cent protected one or two weeks later. I would be doing the same precautions as if I did not have the vaccine,” said Shukla. “Why take the chance?”