Vaccines not yet available in St. Mary’s

Residents must travel to get their shots

By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative reporter    
April 7 2021

ST. MARY’S – As pharmacies and clinics mobilize across the province this week to vaccinate residents against COVID-19, St. Mary’s residents will have to travel out of district to receive their shots, according to the most recent booking information from the province.

As of Tuesday morning (April 6), the location closest to St. Mary’s was the Guysborough Pharmachoice, at 27 Green Street, which was accepting people age 70 and over. Others in that age group were directed to next-nearest pharmacy clinics in Antigonish, Baddeck, Chéticamp, Inverness and Port Hawkesbury to receive the first of two doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Those ages 55 to 64 were able to book appointments at pharmacy clinics or primary care provider clinics in Antigonish, Baddeck, Glace Bay, Inverness, Membertou, North Sydney, Sydney, Port Hawkesbury, Sydney Mines and Whycocomagh for the first of two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

District of St. Mary’s Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald said that he was not aware of any plans to open vaccination centres in the district. “I have not heard anything from [the] N.S. Health Authority regarding locating a vacation site in Sherbrooke or St. Mary’s. The Municipality has not been consulted on vaccination sites, to my knowledge.”

Tonya Edwards, pharmacist owner of the Shoppers Drug Mart in Sherbrooke, said last week that, while she is eager to provide vaccinations, “the N.S. government has to make the announcement about who and when.”

She added: “I’m happy to hear Guysborough is participating, we’re going to need all the clinics we can get. All indications are that we [Sherbrooke Shoppers] will be as well … The Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia has been working very hard to get vaccines in as many pharmacies as possible and I have most definitely requested to be one of those pharmacies … I haven’t heard anything new.”

According to Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness spokesperson Marla MacInnis, in an email on March 25, “As more vaccine becomes available, we will continue to broaden our reach into communities, predominantly through pharmacies and physician offices. We are also working to develop a mobile capacity to help ensure barrier free access to the vaccine.”

She added: “We are aware of areas that may have longer travel times to access the vaccine and are actively working with the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia and Doctors Nova Scotia to cover these areas so that Nova Scotians can access the vaccine closer to home. Once an individual becomes eligible, they will remain so, and can access the vaccine at a time and place more convenient to their personal circumstance.”

Edwards noted that, as all appointments must go through the provincial government booking website, pharmacies and clinics are not permitted to take walk-ins. “Everyone has to register in advance when their age group comes up. I know there will be a lot of relief in the community when we get more of these clinics up and running.”