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Dec. 6, 2021 | Monday
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Pharmacy hopes to have children's vaccines soon
NOTL pharmacist Sean Simpson. (File)

Within days, Niagara-on-the-Lake pharmacist Sean Simpson hopes to have doses of the Pfizer vaccine available to start inoculating children ages five to 11.

There are no guarantees, but "we've been told that we can expect some to show up this week and not to book any appointments before Thursday," he said in an interview Tuesday.

"But I'm getting the feeling that we might have vaccine as early as Thursday. Not a ton, but we'll have some limited doses."

Meanwhile, Niagara public health is launching children's clinics across the region. One is set for the NOTL Community Centre Dec. 10 to 12.

At the same time as Simpson anticipates pediatric doses to arrive, his pharmacy and others are juggling multiple pandemic-related services.

Besides the big push coming to vaccinate young children, pharmacies like Simpson's are co-ordinating the delivery of doses 1 and 2 for those over 12, booster shots for older adults who already have two doses, the annual flu shot and COVID testing for asymptomatic people.

On top of all that, since pharmacies are now permitted to do COVID tests on people exhibiting symptoms of the virus, Simpson said they're trying to establish a way to do that safely.

There are a lot of known unknowns at the moment and that can wreak havoc with staffing and planning, he said. It can be very exhausting for people working in the health field.

As well, many residents are getting tired of life with COVID, the restrictions and changing rules and practices – "and they expect us to have all the answers," Simpson said.

"But the reality is usually we're getting information around the same time as everyone else. So, we're just going with what we have and doing the best we can."

"I think everything's wearing on people and some people are taking that out on us," he said.

 "We're trying to manage that kind of overload and burnout feeling as a team and so overall that's what we're dealing with right now."

Simpson said his store has had a handful of inquiries about doing COVID tests on people who are exhibiting possible symptoms of the virus.

But conducting those tests requires a plan to ensure everyone is safe and to minimize exposure.

Symptomatic patients won't be allowed inside but Simpson said he's hoping to be able to do some form or drive-through testing.

They're working on a system where a patient would make an appointment to pick up a self-testing kit at curbside.

"They can do a swab in their vehicle without having to come in to the pharmacy. We're just trying to figure out how we can do that without exposing our other customers and guests, and also putting our staff at any additional risk."

Those kits would be less invasive than the uncomfortable "giant Q-tip" tests many people have experienced. 

"With the self-test they're doing a cheek swab and a nasal swab. They swab the inside of each cheek as well as their nostrils and then seal it in a tube and seal it in a bag and we will process it and send it off to the lab."

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