Over 2000 shots. That’s 2000 arms, and 2000 needles. 2000 phone calls to set up appointments (and at least 300 phone calls to reschedule appointments when shipments were delayed). 2000 bodies going in and out of a small town pharmacy, all while maintaining safe physical distancing.
Rimbey Value Drug Mart offers a wide range of clinical services, and administering vaccinations is nothing new. But the sheer volume of patients taking part in the COVID-19 vaccination program made for a unique logistical challenge.
“I’m proud of our staff and grateful to the community for their patience in getting this done,” says William Poggemiller, pharmacist and managing partner of Rimbey Value Drug Mart. “It’s been a big web of effort from everyone: the pharmacy, our patients, the companies developing and manufacturing the vaccine, the people distributing it across Alberta. Looking back, it’s amazing what we’ve accomplished!”
Over 800 doses in June alone
The pharmacy administered about 300 doses a month in March, April and May, but supply kicked into overdrive in June.
“June was very busy! We administered about 810 doses, with 385 in the third week,” William says. “We all pitched in. Jalaine and Gabby handled most of the phone calls and bookings, Tamara, Denise, Kari and Teresa helped set patients up with paperwork to fill out in their cars, and Janet and I administered vaccines and looked after follow-up care — and we did a lot of this with a 15-patient capacity in the store!”
Particularly in the early days, pharmacists spent a lot of time answering questions about the vaccine and pre-existing conditions. At the same time, patients were still coming in for prescription refills and other services.
“Generally people have been very understanding, and we’ve appreciated their patience.”
Vaccines still available
Demand has settled down a bit now, but the pharmacy still has vaccine available for those interested.
“Even if you’re not concerned about health risks associated with COVID-19, there are still good reasons to get vaccinated. Some countries may refuse entry to people who are unvaccinated, or require travellers to self-isolate.”
William says the pharmacy has a good supply now, and those who call can usually get an appointment within a few days.
“Each vial has 14 doses, so we try to group appointments together to avoid wasting vaccine.”
To schedule your first or second dose, contact Rimbey Value Drug Mart at 403-843-2020. Find the pharmacy at 4917-50 Ave., open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.