Vaccine appointments booking up fast in Windsor-Essex as people 40+ are now eligible

·3 min read
Nick Russell, 42, says he's on board to get the AstraZeneca vaccine and hopes others in his age group will do the same. (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)
Nick Russell, 42, says he's on board to get the AstraZeneca vaccine and hopes others in his age group will do the same. (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)

With people 40 and older now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, Nick Russell hopes getting his shot means he's closer to eventually attending a Detroit Tigers baseball game across the border.

"I've been keeping up and waiting for the chance for my age group and I didn't think it was going to happen this soon but since it is, I'm definitely going to jump on that chance," said 42-year-old Russell.

He doesn't have an appointment just yet, but is planning to book one.

In Windsor-Essex, pharmacies have started offering the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to the expanded age group and say appointments are going fast. The province lowered the age group eligible to get the AstraZeneca vaccine on Sunday evening.

"It's been a very exciting morning. The number of phone calls has been very, very large," said pharmacist Gary Willard, who works at Ziter's pharmacy in Windsor. "We're just happy to give out the vaccine to another crowd that's eligible to receive it."

With the target age expanding, Willard said they expect to be out of their vaccine supply relatively "quickly."

At this time, he said they have enough vaccine to last about eight days.

Pharmacies are booking people aged 40 and older to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Pharmacies are booking people aged 40 and older to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.(Jacob Barker/CBC)

Before Ontario's announcement, the vaccine was only available to people aged 55 and older in Ontario in line with recommendations from the National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI) earlier this spring.

The vaccine has raised concerns after a small number of younger people in Europe developed a serious blood-clotting condition. In the last week, Canada has also reported two cases of clotting linked to the vaccine.

On Sunday, however, the federal government said the provinces and territories were free to expand eligibility for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to any adult over the age of 18 as some pharmacists warned they had doses sitting idle because of the age restrictions.

'Have patience'

Pharmacist and vice chair of Ontario Pharmacists' Association Tim Brady says he's also seeing an increased demand. As of Sunday night, Brady says his pharmacies had 180 appointments available and by 11 a.m. Monday, "they were all gone."

"The good news is people want shots, which is what we want to hear," said Brady, who owns Brady's Drug Store in Belle River, Essex and Tilbury.

"We want to get shots in arms, with all the issues of the variants coming out."

As for the hesitancy around the AstraZeneca vaccine, Brady said he makes sure people getting the shot are informed.

Pharmacist Tim Brady is the owner of Brady's Drug Stores in Essex, Belle River and Tilbury.
Pharmacist Tim Brady is the owner of Brady's Drug Stores in Essex, Belle River and Tilbury. (Amy Dodge/CBC)

He said people should know that any risk of clotting is a lot lower than actually getting COVID-19.

The odds of getting a blood clot are estimated to be between one in 100,000 and one in 250,000.

At this time, Brady said he has supply though it is flying off the shelves, with someone coming in roughly every 10 minutes to get a shot.

"I try to tell everybody have patience ... it's a fluid thing and we're trying to get them out as quick as we get them in," he said.

As for Russell, he says he's not worried about the risk for clotting and just wants to get the shot.

And for others his age, Russell says, "get it done, get it as early as you can and the faster more of us get vaccinated the quicker we can get back to a normal life."

And while his normal looks like a game in Detroit, a vaccination isn't the only thing standing in his way, as the Canada-U.S. border is still closed to non-essential travellers.