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Eligible Ottawans travel to Kingston area to get COVID-19 vaccine

·3 min read
Bryan McLean of Ottawa says it's a relief he and his wife were able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 over the weekend. They drove an hour and a half to a pharmacy in Sharbot Lake. (Submitted by Bryan McLean - image credit)
Bryan McLean of Ottawa says it's a relief he and his wife were able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 over the weekend. They drove an hour and a half to a pharmacy in Sharbot Lake. (Submitted by Bryan McLean - image credit)

People from the Ottawa area who are ages 60 to 64 are travelling to the Kingston, Ont., region to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Ontario government launched a pilot program on Friday involving 325 pharmacies offering doses in select regions, in Toronto, Windsor, and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington (KFL&A).

You don't need to be living in those regions to get vaccinated.

Pharmacies are set to administer 194,500 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which the province gained access to last week.

Bryan McLean, 62, who lives in Ottawa, said he wasn't sure if he would be eligible, so he called a pharmacy in Sharbot Lake, about an hour and a half drive away.

We know that this isn't over until everybody is vaccinated. - Bryan McLean, 62

"Told them we were in Ottawa and [asked] were we eligible or not, and they said, 'Absolutely you are, come on down,' so we booked it and we went down on Saturday, and it was fantastic," said McLean.

He said there was no lineup, and he and his wife, who is also eligible, were in and out in 10 minutes.

"On the one hand, it feels great, on the other hand, we know that this isn't over until everybody is vaccinated, so it's sort of, you know, it's a step along the road in the right direction."

McLean said that within minutes of leaving the pharmacy, he received an email with all the information about the vaccine. It also informed him he would be contacted about when he get his second dose.

Tim Dooley, 60, who lives in Manotick, was vaccinated on Sunday in Amherstview, which is in the Greater Kingston area.

"I was actually feeling a little bit guilty that I might be taking somebody's shot from the Kingston area, so the first question I asked the pharmacy was, 'Is that a problem if I'm coming from Ottawa?' And they said, 'No, not at all,'" said Dooley.

Tim Dooley says he checked with the pharmacy in the Greater Kingston area first before booking his vaccination appointment.
Tim Dooley says he checked with the pharmacy in the Greater Kingston area first before booking his vaccination appointment.(CBC)

He said the experience was easy and organized.

"It was a big relief. I got to say, I was a little nervous before I had the shot, but afterwards it was a relief, and I just hope it it keeps going, and more and more people get vaccinated."

Dooley said he knows about a dozen friends who are thinking about getting vaccinated at a pharmacy.

"After I spoke to them at the pharmacy, the messaging was clear. As I said, I was a little concerned about travelling to Kingston to get the shot. But I mean, the messaging was pretty clear that it was for anybody in Ontario."

Dooley works in sales and said he hasn't seen a customer in person in about a year, so he's excited to see more people getting vaccinated.

Booking outside region up to pharmacies

Aakash Patel, the pharmacy manager at the Shoppers Drug Mart in Amherstview, said that at first it was only offering to vaccinate locals, but then opened the service to anyone.

"Most of the people are from local [area], like I would say, about 80 per cent are local and 20 per cent are from outside the region," said Patel.

Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health said in an emailed statement there are no restrictions on travelling in the province to get a vaccine, but it does not recommend it.

"KFL&A Public Health do not recommend travel outside your region, especially if your region or the region you are travelling to have a higher incidence of COVID-19 or are under lockdown," the statement said. "There are no provincial restrictions of travelling to different areas to receive vaccine. It is the decision of the individual pharmacy to choose if they would allow appointments from those outside our region."

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