Ringing phones were a welcome sound for pharmacists Monday morning.
While not a whole lot of work was done on Monday, the former president of Pharmacists Manitoba says it was for an encouraging reason; vaccine age eligibility for a COVID-19 vaccine offered at pharmacies had changed to those 40-years-old and older.
"It was amazing. Once the criteria opened up I had people call back and say 'you know what, I'll get it.' Even in the higher age group because they knew the demand was going to increase," Barret Procyshyn says.
Procyshyn says when he left his Dauphin pharmacy Friday, he was worried about the amount of unused AstraZeneca vaccines were in their possession.
"I was left for the weekend wondering what we were going to do with all those vaccinations because it was a hard sell to get people in for AstraZeneca."
On Monday, those worries about unused vaccines were quickly expelled after the province announced anyone 40-years-old or older could get the AstraZeneca vaccine, effective immediately.
"It was busy and there were a lot of phone calls and people coming in. We were also starting to vaccinate on Monday morning. It was a busy day but it is great. I think pharmacists across Manitoba are embracing this. We want to do more."
The Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy has a waiting list, but that did not stop people from calling with hopes of getting a vaccine, something pharmacies across the province were experiencing. Procyshyn answered a lot of questions Monday, most commonly about blood clotting.
"All of a sudden there was a lot less hesitancy when we opened up the 40 plus age group. It is great we were able to answer questions and help out with that."
Procyshyn says pharmacies are "going to burn through their supplied pretty quick" and is anticipating the doses to be gone by the end of the week.
The Former President says pharmacies want to, and can, do more. Doctors Manitoba says the main limitation to vaccinating Manitobans is vaccine supply. They say five per cent of all vaccine doses in Manitoba have been shared with doctor's offices.
Answering calls and questions all day, Procyshyn was glad to talk to people who had questions. He says he has empathy for pharmacies with only one pharmacist working on Monday.
"It has really brought some good momentum for vaccinations for 40 and up. Hopefully, we can continue that because it has been very busy with lots of calls and questions which is great."
He is hopeful more AstraZeneca vaccines will make their way into arms, and in the future, mRNA vaccines made available in pharmacies, something he is seeing working in other regions.
Procyshyn himself is a recipient of AstraZeneca and his wife Pfizer. He says this puts him in a good position to discuss the vaccine with people who had questions, including people wondering which vaccine they should get.
"That is the great thing about pharmacists and our profession at pharmacies: it is pretty much the only place you can call and speak to that front-line healthcare provider right away."
Procyshyn says he is hoping the government will secure more AstraZeneca doses.