Pharmacists urge people to book in advance to avoid delays in tests and vaccinations

Some pharmacies may need to limit what they can offer to meet increased demand for influenza vaccines, third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and COVID-19 tests, according to pharmacists.

Fall is always a busy time for pharmacies, according to Jen Baker, pharmacist and pharmacy owner, who is also the former chair of the board of directors of the Ontario Pharmacists Association.

This is the first drop with the COVID-19 vaccine, however, in addition to the annual flu shot, the COVID-19 tests that existed last fall and the typical increase in demand during the cold season due to illness.

“We have to answer the phones, have the drugs filled, review the prescriptions, advise patients. They need to get the flu and COVID shots in a timely manner, and many people are traveling to come. who need timely COVID testing, ”she said.

“It’s a lot of prioritizing, sorting and juggling.”

Baker said his pharmacy phone lines lit up earlier this week when the province announced it would offer third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to certain groups starting this weekend.

Ontario Pharmacists Association CEO Justin Bates said pharmacies have stepped up during the pandemic, including delivering COVID-19 vaccines, which will run alongside flu shot programs.

“There is definitely a lot going on,” he said. “I will say the pharmacies have prepared for this.”

Bates said the regulated pharmacy technicians who administer the COVID-19 vaccines, a system he says will be “imminently” expanded to include flu shots, has been of great help, and the reservation systems Online have created a “well-oiled machine” to meet vaccine needs.

Tests before the trip, an additional and unpredictable demand

As pharmacists are busy with vaccinations, pre-travel COVID-19 testing could be excessive as some Ottawa testing centers suspend this service due to demand for symptomatic testing.

Ontario Pharmacists Association CEO Justin Bates says pharmacists are up for the challenge this fall, but he hopes people will be patient with healthcare providers. (SRC)

This demand is increasing as the United States opens its land border to Canadians.

Bates said appointment availability may change as testing criteria and global needs change for travelers.

“We are always at the mercy of public policies and health policies and various eligibility criteria,” Bates said. “But we are very agile in being able to welcome people and implement these changes.

“I think people at this particular time have to be a little patient with all health care providers because it’s a busy time right in the middle of flu season.”

Baker said decisions about manpower and resources are made pharmacy to pharmacy.

“We’re doing our best to make sure everyone is seen as quickly as possible, but it’s a very busy time, and every pharmacy needs to prioritize based on the health needs of our patient population,” said she declared.

“Sometimes something has to give, and it can depend on the pharmacy what they are pausing at that time.”

Baker said that although his pharmacy uses an online reservation system to streamline the appointment process, there are always appointments that can cause delays. She wants people to plan ahead as much as possible and try to have replacements if their favorite pharmacy isn’t offering the services they need.

“Do your research ahead of time. Call ahead. See what the wait times are like and try to make an appointment,” she said.

About Terry Gongora

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