More than 100 Ottawa residents lined up early Monday morning after they were tipped off that a local Loblaws pharmacy was opening its COVID-19 vaccination clinic up for walk-in appointments.
The lineup already stretched around the College Square grocery store before the clinic officially opened at 8 a.m. on Monday.
Multiple vaccine-hopefuls who spoke to Global News said they were tipped off by a morning tweet from the Vaccine Hunters Canada Twitter account, which flagged that any residents aged 40 and older could receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that same day.
— Vaccine Hunters Canada (@VaxHuntersCan) April 26, 2021
When Natalie Hatina saw the tweet go up at 6:50 a.m., she said she hopped in her car and arrived 15 minutes later to snag a spot in line.
“I’ll take whatever it gives me as long as I can hug my family again,” she told Global News.
Hatina, like many others in line on Monday morning, was on nearly a dozen waiting lists at different pharmacies across the city, hoping for her turn to get a first dose of the vaccine.
She expressed frustration with Ontario’s vaccine rollout, and said a lack of organization and clear messaging is preventing people who really want the jab from getting vaccinated.
“It’s a lot of people that want vaccines, but they just don’t understand how to get it,” she said.
“We have to rely on Twitter and volunteers to get us to a proper clinic.”
Marie-Chantale Lanthier said she and her husband, who is immunocompromised and sits on up to 17 pharmacy waiting lists, have even tried visiting a Walmart pharmacy at midnight in hopes of getting a last-minute vaccine.
But despite the frustrations leading up to the moment of injection, Lanthier and others in line said their enthusiasm for the vaccine has not waned.
“It’s going to be superb. I’m going to be happy. My family’s going to be safe. That’s good,” she said.
Gary Clark, who works as a driver, told Global News that he wanted to get the vaccine to protect both himself and those he comes into contact with.
He added he did not have any concerns about the rare side effects reported from the AstraZeneca vaccine, and others in line Monday morning echoed his confidence.
“I’ll take what I can get,” he said.
Demand for COVID-19 vaccines has the city’s supply of doses running low, according to Ottawa Public Health.
Ottawa has administered 328,527 doses of the vaccine as of Monday, representing roughly 94 per cent of the total inventory received to date. At the end of last week, Ottawa had only run through about 88 per cent of its stock.
Roughly a third of all residents aged 16 and older who are eligible for the vaccine have now received at least an initial dose, according to OPH.
More than 85 per cent of people 70 and older in the city are protected by at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 64.3 percent of people in their 60s, 36.4 per cent of people in their 50s and 19.5 per cent of people in their 40s have now gotten a jab.
OPH also opened up pre-registration for pregnant women to get their vaccine on Monday after pregnancy was added to the list of highest-risk individuals to get vaccinated under Ontario’s Phase 2 sequencing plans last week.
— With files from Bryan Mullan
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