Ottawa pharmacies prepare to begin administering COVID-19 vaccine as early as this weekend

Phones at one Ottawa pharmacy were ringing off the hook after the Ontario government announced 350 new pharmacies will begin offering the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as early as Saturday.

That includes 34 pharmacies in Ottawa and seven across eastern Ontario.

“I was excited that it was my turn to get it done,” said 55-year-old Barb Kortekaas. "I know at least I’m protected because both my parents are ill."

Kortekaas, a grocery store worker who works overnight, is also a mother and grandmother living in a full household.

After a stressful year, she said this news is a welcome.

"It’s a sense of relief," she said.

Eligible adults aged 55 and over can book an appointment at one of the locations found on the Ontario government's website.

Centrepoint Gabriel Drugs in Nepean said while they don’t know when the vaccines would arrive, there are already more than 150 people on the waiting list.

The Ontario Pharmacists Association says shipments to Ottawa are imminent.  While some pharmacies may start giving shots Saturday, most will wait until at least Monday.

"Right now, we are taking down names," said pharmacist Heidi Gabriel. “We will be getting it, we will be vaccinating it. Just be patient with us."

Although there has been some hesitancy with the AstraZeneca vaccine, Kortekaas says she’ll take it.

"I’ll take it for now," she said. "To get some time of protection you know.” 

For a list of Ottawa pharmacies offering the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to residents over the age of 55, click here.