Vaccine rollout in Windsor-Essex pharmacies moving forward, despite some hesitancy

·3 min read
Locally, pharmacies say they are fielding a lot of questions from clients about the vaccine.  (Alessandra Tarantino/The Associated Press - image credit)
Locally, pharmacies say they are fielding a lot of questions from clients about the vaccine. (Alessandra Tarantino/The Associated Press - image credit)

Windsor pharmacies say they have been met with vaccine hesitancy and questions from eligible patients days into the rollout of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Owner and pharmacist of Medica Pharmacy in Windsor, Francesco Vella, said while his shop has been administering about 40 vaccines a day since the pilot program began four days ago, he and his employees been putting in a lot of work to make sure people feel safe getting the shot.

"We're naturally seeing a lot of vaccine hesitancy among the target population that we're trying to vaccinate," Vella said. "We've been able to mitigate that through giving accurate information to patients."

Initially, he said his pharmacy saw about 40 per cent of vaccine hesitancy among the target population, but now they've been able to reduce that to 25 per cent.

He said they are ensuring that they book enough time in each appointment to address any concerns clients might have.

Francesco Vella, the owner of Medica Pharmacy, says they've administered about 40 shots a day since Friday.
Francesco Vella, the owner of Medica Pharmacy, says they've administered about 40 shots a day since Friday. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

Concerns are arising after several countries in Europe suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after reports of blood clots in some patients.

In response to this growing concern, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday the vaccine is safe and Canadians should have no concerns about receiving it.

"Health Canada and our experts have spent an awful lot of time making sure every vaccine approved in Canada is both safe and effective," Trudeau said.

At this time, Vella said his pharmacy is fully booked until Wednesday, after which appointments start to open up.

If appointments remain open, he said they'll start giving the slots to people in Sarnia and London — regions where people have been calling from to try and get a shot.

"I'm hoping people realize how fortunate we are here in Windsor to participate in this program and take full advantage," he said.

As of Monday, Vella said the pharmacy has given out 120 doses of the vaccine and is on track to deliver all 500 doses that it received.

Meanwhile, George El-Turk, a pharmacist at Windsor Avenue Pharmacy, told CBC News Monday that they've been "pretty busy" and haven't seen as much hesitancy, though people are wanting more information.

Pharmacist at Windsor Avenue Pharmacy George El-Turk says people were asking a lot of questions, but his location has been booked solid with appointments.
Pharmacist at Windsor Avenue Pharmacy George El-Turk says people were asking a lot of questions, but his location has been booked solid with appointments.(Sanjay Maru/CBC)

"I've gotten a lot of questions today [about the vaccine], but luckily from our patient base everyone showed up for the most part and is happy to be getting vaccinated," he said.

He said his location is booking four people every 15 minutes and have only had a handful of cancellations and no-shows since Friday afternoon.

By the end of next week, El-Turk says if they keep moving at their current pace, they should have all the vaccines that were shipped to his store in arms.