Pharmacists across Nova Scotia have been celebrating after reaching a milestone of 500,000 COVID vaccine doses administered at pharmacies.
Nearly 300 pharmacy clinics across Nova Scotia helped achieve that goal earlier this week.
It has been a monumental week for Nova Scotia - pharmacy team members have surpassed 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. We owe endless thanks to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians for their tireless efforts, during the pandemic and everyday. #NSPharmacy #HealthcareHeros pic.twitter.com/lwrktf299P— PANS (@PharmacyNS) July 8, 2021
Late last year, discussions started about having pharmacies administer COVID vaccines; specific details were worked on in the first couple of months of 2021.
"Our first pilot clinics were the week of Mar. 8," Allison Bodnar, CEO of the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia, said. "We've been going at this now for about five months."
She told NEWS 95.7's The Rick Howe Show that there have been some growing pains, but most have been quite small.
"I think that's a testament to the way that pharmacies work and the way that those teams come together and can build in these systems," she said.
Moreover, she said the CANImmunize platform has massively supported pharmacy clinics in starting to administer COVID-19 vaccines.
"That platform has really simplified the process, the administrative process, for pharmacies," she said. "So, they can really focus on the patient and getting that immunization in, and they don't have to worry about a lot of paperwork and behind-the-scenes stuff — it's just really quick and simple."
By taking on the task of administering vaccines, pharmacies across the province have had to fit vaccinations into already busy schedules.
She said some pharmacies have dotted vaccination appointments into their daily schedules while other locations have held full days for vaccinations.
To help alleviate the pressure of the new task, pharmacies without extra capacity were able to utilize other health-care professionals such as nurses.
With a third vaccine booster dose making headlines, Bodnar said she thinks pharmacies will continue to be a vehicle for administering those shots if necessary.
"Vaccine administration is right in our wheelhouse," she said. "Patients love it because it's convenient to them; we're everywhere in the province, we're open on weekends, we're open in the evenings. So, we hear repeatedly that pharmacies are a place where patients want to have their vaccines.
"We're already doing this, we're well-equipped to keep doing it and I would expect if boosters become our reality, that we will incorporate that into our day-to-day work, just like we do flu season every year."
On July 5, Nova Scotia reached a total of one million administered COVID-19 vaccine doses. On July 9, that number rose to 1,085,267 administered doses.
Since Dec. 15, the province has received 1,256,250 COVID-19 vaccine doses.
As of July 9, 73.7 per cent of Nova Scotia's population have received one or more vaccine doses.