Vaccines in comfort: rave reviews as Quebec pharmacies start giving COVID shots
MONTREAL -- Pharmacists have been saying it for a while, and it looks like they were right: their clients really do trust them, and jumped at the chance to get a vaccine in a familiar place.
“I'm happy because I have all my [medical files] here,” said one Quebecer on Monday after getting a shot at a Cote-des-Neiges pharmacy.
“I get my medication here since 20 years ago, so I am well.”
Nabil Chikh, a pharmacist at the Pharmaprix on Cote-des-Neiges Rd., said the shop was allocated 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine and they were spoken for almost immediately.
“We felt like we were a rock concert,” he said. “The appointments were available on March 15th. In our particular case, they were gone within probably three hours."
A week after appointments opened at 350 Montreal pharmacies, they started actually giving the shots today.
Supply aside, it was a smashing success in other ways, said Chikh, especially because his pharmacy was given a vaccine that’s easy to work with, compared to the Pfizer one, which must be kept in a deep freeze.
“The Moderna is very simple to manipulate for us pharmacies,” Chikh said. “We keep it in our regular biomedical fridges… which can keep the Moderna vaccine for one month.”
Other clients said they preferred the pharmacy setting to the idea of the huge mass vaccination sites such as the Palais de Congrès.
“Less people,” one person explained, adding it was “very comfortable.”
Another said they jumped at the idea right away, even switching a pre-existing plan.
"Well, I intended to go at the Jewish Hospital last week,” that client said, “and when they mentioned... that the Pharmaprix were also opening to deliver the vaccine, I went on [the] internet.”
Though the program started with a relatively small number of doses, Quebec will need to count on pharmacies if it plans to reach its goal of giving everyone a first dose by June 24.
Pharmacists are just fine with that idea, said Chikh, also echoing the words of a pharmacy association last week that pointed out that pharmacists have a unique ability to reach Quebecers the provincial authorities may not—since they know them personally already, and can see in their files.
“We're extremely proud to be able to contribute to this, help our community, make this available for people who would otherwise have difficulties getting the vaccine,” Chikh said.
He said he hasn’t been told when the next shipment will arrive, but pharmacists are hoping it’s soon.