Moderna shipment falls short, pharmacists say

·2 min read
Five Ottawa pharmacies have received a total of just 2,250 doses of the Moderna vaccine. (Dan Taekema/CBC - image credit)
Five Ottawa pharmacies have received a total of just 2,250 doses of the Moderna vaccine. (Dan Taekema/CBC - image credit)

Ottawa pharmacists say the limited number of Moderna doses being added to the vaccines they can administer won't be nearly enough to meet the growing demand as their supply of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine dries up.

While pharmacies in the province were originally offering only doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are now being administered at some locations. In Ottawa, five pharmacies in designated hot spots will be able to give out the Moderna vaccine.

"We're limited as to how [many] people we can book, and that's the sad part," said pharmacist Lubna Fawaz, who owns ProMed Pharmacy on Alta Vista Drive.

According to the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA), those five Ottawa pharmacies will receive about 150 doses each per week for the next three weeks, or 2,250 doses total.

The OPA said the supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the province's pharmacies has been almost entirely depleted.

Doses won't lasting long

Fawaz said when she received the Moderna doses Friday morning, they were quickly claimed by customers on her waiting list. Thousands more have signed up for an appointment, but will have to wait.

At her adjacent medical clinic, Fawaz said she could administer 1,000 doses per week — if only she had the supply.

"I just feel down when somebody approaches me to be able to give them the vaccine and I have to turn them down because I don't have enough doses," she said.

Justin Bates is CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association.
Justin Bates is CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association.(Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

Several of the pharmacies that have received the Moderna doses told CBC they won't last long. Canada is set to receive one million more Moderna doses next week.

"The plan is over the course of May ... to continually add more pharmacies, both in hot spots and then broaden it out provincially," said Justin Bates, the OPA's CEO.

Bates said more AstraZeneca vaccine should be available for a second dose, depending on supply. The OPA is also watching research on mixing vaccines as a possible option for second doses.