Niagara pharmacists are still waiting to learn how much AstraZeneca vaccine they can expect to receive and when it will arrive, after the province included 22 local pharmacies on its expanded list of drug stores that will vaccinate people 55 years old and up.
In a media release Thursday, it said some locations will begin offering the vaccine as early as Saturday.
But local pharmacists — many of whom have been allowing patients to pre-register for a vaccination via their websites and phone calls — are still waiting to determine how much vaccine they can expect to receive.
They also wonder when those shipments will arrive, before they can begin contacting preregistered customers to schedule appointments.
“Honestly, the amount of information coming out of the ministry (of health) is like next to nothing,” said pharmacist Aaron Boggio, who co-owns three locations on the list of nearly 380 additional pharmacies that will provide doses of vaccine to patients.
“We don’t know when we’re going to receive them. We honestly expect them to just show up on our doorstep. … We were told to sign up, so we’re expecting them. We may honestly receive them as early as this weekend, or early next week,” he said.
“We’re ready. We’re just waiting for them (the province) to get their act together.”
Pharmacist Sean Simpson, who owns two Niagara-on-the-Lake pharmacies on the province’s list, said he too is “still waiting for more details.”
“We have been waiting for it. We weren’t sure when the government was going to make their official announcement, but it looks like the cat’s out of the bag now,” said Simpson, a member of Niagara’s COVID-19 vaccination task force.
“We were somewhat hopeful they wouldn’t make the announcement until we actually had vaccine.”
Despite the unknowns, local pharmacists are eager to do their part in protecting people from the spread of COVID-19.
“We’re excited to be able to help our customers and the residents of Niagara,” Boggio said. “In my mind, it’s taken far too long to get to this point. But we’re really excited.”
Pharmacist Donnie Edwards, who runs a pharmacy in Ridgeway, said he hopes the first of the vaccine shipments will arrive on the weekend, “and hopefully we’ll be starting vaccinations on Monday.”
As COVID-19 cases increase across Ontario during the pandemic’s third wave, Edwards said pharmacies are “going to have to play a huge role in getting vaccinations into people’s arms as quickly as they can.”
“We’re definitely prepared to go 24-7, 365 days a year if we need to,” he said. “We want people back to regular life as quick as possible.”
Local pharmacists have also arranged for extra staff, bringing in licensed pharmacists and registered pharmacy technicians and ensuring they have been trained to administer the vaccinations.
“We’re just raring to go, just waiting for the go-ahead. As soon as we get the vaccines, we’re going to be ready to put them into people’s arms,” Boggio said.
Simpson said he plans to allocate appointments to patients as the vaccine becomes available, and he has an idea of how much he will receive.
“We’re expecting to sort of test our workflow on the first day or two and to see how much we can accommodate, and we’ll scale up as safely as we can,” Simpson said.
“We’ll be trying to do our best to get as many needles in arms as we possibly can.”
Edwards was pleased to see the list included pharmacy locations from throughout Niagara rather than just urban centres.
As an Ontario Pharmacists Association board member, he said the group worked hard to ensure rural pharmacies were involved in the expanded rollout, as well as “fair distribution into all different facets of pharmacies” including chains, big box stores and independent shops.
“People trust their pharmacists and we’re so accessible. It makes it easier for folks, especially in rural areas, instead of having to go into an urban centre to get vaccinations at a mass clinic,” Edwards said. “These are people they know and trust.”
The following pharmacies in Niagara are part of the vaccine program:
Shoppers Drug Mart, 3701 Portage Road;
Costco Pharmacy, 7500 Pin Oak Drive;
Walmart Pharmacy, 7481 Oakwood Drive;
Shoppers Drug Mart, 5125 Montrose Road;
Boggio Pharmacy, 6680 Drummond Road;
Rexall, 6484 Lundy’s Lane;
Shoppers Drug Mart, 387 Scott Street;
Walmart Pharmacy, 429 Vansickle Road;
Loblaw Pharmacy, 221 Glendale Avenue;
Shoppers Drug Mart, 42 St. Andrews Avenue;
Boggio Pharmacy, 200 Catherines Street;
Simpson’s Pharmacy, 1882 Niagara Stone Road;
Simpson’s Apothecary, 233 King Street;
Shoppers Drug Mart, Seaway Mall;
Shoppers Drug Mart, 595 South Pelham Road;
Loblaw Pharmacy, 821 Niagara Street;
Rexall, 399 King Street;
Boggio Pharmacy, 307 Ridge Road;
Rexall, 310 Garrison Road;
Crescent Park Pharmacy, 1264 Garrison Road;
Rexall, 4486 Ontario Street;
Shoppers Drug Mart, 144 Griffin Street.
As COVID-19 vaccines for kids get closer, experts weigh up how to reassure parents – CBC.ca
As Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech say they’ve moved a step closer to providing their COVID-19 vaccine for younger children, one mother says she’s keen to have her eldest vaccinated, but hears some hesitation among other parents.
“As parents, you’re nervous and you’re apprehensive, obviously, about any risks,” said Fallon Jones, who lives in Halifax with a five-year-old daughter and two-year-old son.
“But we have to weigh the pros and the cons here, and I think that this is a good opportunity to protect them against a potentially deadly virus,” she told The Current’s Matt Galloway.
Pfizer-BioNTech said Monday that a clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine recorded a robust immune response in five- to 11-year-olds, and the company plans to seek regulatory approval as soon as possible. Children received two shots, each one-third the dose size given to adults. The findings have not been peer-reviewed, nor published.
For any vaccine to be approved by Health Canada, the manufacturers supply the necessary clinical trial data for review. If the regulator grants approval, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) will make a recommendation on their use, but the final decision to deploy the vaccines rests with provincial authorities.
In a statement to The Current, Health Canada said the makers of all COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada are conducting or planning studies in adolescents and younger children, but it has so far not received any submission for the approval of any COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12.
In her work at a vaccine hesitancy clinic in Calgary, Dr. Cora Constantinescu meets parents who are experiencing “a lot of fear and anxiety” around their children potentially getting the vaccine.
“We often have parents who are fully vaccinated themselves, who may be hesitant about their kids,” said Constantinescu, a pediatrician and infectious disease doctor at Alberta Children’s Hospital.
She said that parents talk to her about things they’ve seen online, including “anti-vaccine rhetoric and a lot of misconstrued science.”
In Halifax, Jones said she often hears other parents say they don’t know what’s in the vaccine, so they won’t give it to their kids. When she asks if they knew what was in the vaccines their kids received as babies, the response is usually no, she said.
“I completely respect and understand how there would be some fear associated with it,” she said.
But ultimately, “we trusted our doctors then and we trusted the science then, and we need to do the same with this vaccine.”
How should parents approach vaccine question?
Constantinescu said many parents have seen misinformation on social media, where there is a “huge polarization of the pro-vaccine and the anti-vaccine crowd.”
“The parents are caught in the middle, scared and worried about their kids, trying to make the best decision they can,” she said.
As parents approach the decision, they should consider the dual impact of COVID-19 on children, she said.
“We’re seeing the direct effects of COVID on children, and we know that that can range from mild disease, to respiratory illness, to being hospitalized, having a multi-system inflammation, to ending up in ICU,” she said.
There is also an indirect cost, including mental health issues and issues around socialization, she said.
The news from Pfizer-BioNTech gives her hope that those impacts can soon be addressed, but she warned that the data has not yet been made public, or reviewed by Health Canada.
If it is approved, she said parents should approach the vaccine as an issue of “personal protection first.”
“It’s about protecting their kids directly, looking out for them, and wanting to return them to a normal life,” she said.
‘Pull out all the stops’ to protect kids
Dr. Kashif Pirzada, an emergency physician in Toronto, wants to see a safe vaccine for kids approved and available as quickly as possible.
“I’m calling for all of these processes to be speeded up and done very transparently,” said Pirzada, who is also a co-founder of Masks4Canada, a group that advocates for public health measures to slow the spread of the virus.
He added that more work should be done to reassure parents that the vaccines are safe. He warned that COVID-19 is not harmless to children, and the longer they remain unprotected, the more infections there will be.
In the meantime, vaccination sites and health-care workers could be prepared to ramp the vaccination campaign back up, he said.
“Once that approval comes, we should pull out all the stops and get these shots into little arms as quickly as possible.”
Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Rachel Levy-McLaughlin, Arianne Robinson and Joana Draghici.
Gold price drops as Powell talks 'gradual' tapering, downplays Evergrande contagion concerns – Kitco NEWS
(Kitco News) The gold market saw its earlier gains reversed as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell talked about “gradual” tapering while downplaying China’s Evergrande contagion effect on the U.S. market.
On Wednesday, the Fed said it may soon start tapering its $120 billion in monthly asset purchases, with central bank officials showing growing support for raising interest rates in 2022.
“If progress continues broadly as expected, the Committee judges that a moderation in the pace of asset purchases may soon be warranted. These asset purchases help foster smooth market functioning and accommodative financial conditions, thereby supporting the flow of credit to households and businesses,” the Fed said in a statement.
When clarifying the Fed’s stance at a press conference following the Fed statement, Powell indicated that it would be a “very gradual taper,” which could conclude in the middle of next year.
Powell also pointed out that the central bank has the freedom to speed up or slow down the tapering process as it sees fit. He added that markets should not expect a rate hike while the Fed is still tapering.
Tapering does depend on substantial further progress made by the U.S. economy. And if the economy continues to advance in line with expectations, the Fed could move ahead with tapering at the next meeting.
“For me, it wouldn’t take a knockout [August] employment report. It would take a reasonably good employment report for me to feel like that test is met,” Powell said. “I would say that in my own thinking, the test is all but met. I don’t personally need to see a very strong employment report. Again it’s not to be confused with the test for [rate] liftoff, which is so much higher.”
The Fed Chair was also asked about China’s Evergrande debt issue, which sparked a rout in the markets earlier this week.
“The Evergrande situation seems very particular to China, which has very high debt for an emerging economy,” Powell told reporters. “Corporate defaults in the U.S. are very low right now … You would worry that it would affect global financial conditions through confidence channels.”
When asked about the stock-trading policies for Fed officials, Powell replied that they are “not adequate” and the Fed “could do better.”
Powell noted that it is reasonable for Fed officials not to own the same assets as Fed buys. “We are going to be looking at all those things,” he said.
On the debt ceiling issue, Powell also urged Congress to raise the debt limit in a timely fashion. “It is critically important. Failure to do that is something that could result in severe damage to the economy and financial markets.”
He added that no one should assume Fed can protect the economy if the debt ceiling is not raised.
In response to Powell’s comments, gold saw some losses as markets interpreted Powell’s comments as upbeat when it came to the U.S. economy. At the time of writing, December Comex gold futures were trading at $1,767.20, down 0.62% on the day.
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