B.C. pharmacies begin administering 2nd vaccine doses to AstraZeneca recipients

When 100 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine arrived at the Pharmasave in West Vancouver’s Caulfield neighbourhood over the weekend, owner Alan Williamson sent emails to 100 patients, asking if there were interested in getting their second dose.

As B.C.'s immunization program moves forward, pharmacies are now offering a second dose of AstraZeneca, a vaccine that has caused some hesitancy due to a rare side effect that causes blood clots.

“So far, we have about 64 that have booked. So we are looking at about 64 per cent right now gonna get their second dose of AstraZeneca,” said Williamson who stressed some patients may not have checked their email yet, and could still call to book an appointment.

If he doesn’t get more bookings, Williamson will soon begin emailing the remaining 200 patients who got their first dose at his pharmacy.

“If we aren’t getting enough traction for the doses of AstraZeneca, we will tell the health authority that we don’t need any more, and they should be going somewhere that does need them.”

Deputy provincial health officer Dr. Reka Gustafson acknowledges some first dose AstraZeneca recipients may opt for Pfizer or Moderna for dose two, but she doesn’t want a single dose of AstraZeneca vaccine to go to waste.

“At the moment it’s our understating and the indication is there is good demand and desire for second dose AstraZeneca vaccine. At this same time, our vaccine management programs in B.C. are watching those things very, very carefully,” she said.

At Bonsor Pharmacy in Burnaby, owner Azmina Jiwa said every patient that’s been called about a second dose has booked an appointment. One of them, Kelly Fox, snapped a selfie as she got her booster vaccine at the pharmacy.

“I’m super excited about it,” she said. “AstraZeneca was fine for me the first time, I trust that it will be fine for me again.”

David Brock also went for his second AstraZeneca shot on Monday at Bonsor.

“I am happy with the choice, especially since the pharmacist has just explained some of the benefits of it. I talked to my doctor a couple weeks ago, and she said ‘take the first one that’s offered to you.’ It’s all good options, so this is the first one,” Brock said.

Patients who are now fully vaccinated are leaving the pharmacy relaxed and relieved.

“Some people have even brought us treats," Jiwa said, adding “They are very appreciative.”