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About 1,500 young children's COVID-19 vaccine appointments cancelled after shots booked at four Alberta pharmacies in error

Edmonton Journal logo Edmonton Journal 2021-11-25 Lauren Boothby
A vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children is pictured at the Meuhedet Healthcare Services Organisation in Tel Aviv on Nov. 22, 2021, as Israel begins coronavirus vaccination campaign for 5 to 11-year-olds. © JACK GUEZ A vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children is pictured at the Meuhedet Healthcare Services Organisation in Tel Aviv on Nov. 22, 2021, as Israel begins coronavirus vaccination campaign for 5 to 11-year-olds.
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About 1,500 youngsters expecting to get a COVID-19 shot at Alberta pharmacies in the coming days will have their appointments cancelled.

Vaccination bookings for children aged five to 11 opened at 8 a.m. Wednesday in Alberta, but four pharmacies — three in Edmonton and one in Airdrie — were incorrectly listed, according to Alberta Health. In both of these cities, Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine is only being offered at Alberta Health Services’ sites.

Michael Francoeur, spokesperson for Alberta Health, said incorrect locations were removed from Alberta Health’s system within an hour. He apologized to those who need to reschedule.

“We are aware of four pharmacies that incorrectly opened pediatric vaccine appointments in the Alberta vaccine booking system early (Wednesday) morning … The four pharmacies are in the process of cancelling these appointments and notifying individuals,” he said in an email statement.

“On behalf of these pharmacies and the province, we apologize for the inconvenience to Albertans.”

Only pharmacies in Alix, Legal, Clive and Warburg are offering the shot. Elsewhere, Albertans must book at one of AHS’s 120 locations or, for children on First Nations reserves, at a public health clinic.

The first opportunity for this age group to be vaccinated is Friday. Anyone who incorrectly booked at an Edmonton or Airdrie pharmacy can reschedule their appointment through Alberta Health’s online booking tool and cancellation website, or by calling Health Link at 811.

© Provided by Edmonton Journal

Vaccine Hunters warn parents

Lindsay LeBlanc went to Alberta Health’s website just after 7 a.m. Wednesday after her sister tipped her off that appointments were open. Having listened to the government’s announcement Tuesday, LeBlanc was suspicious when she saw the Edmonton pharmacies listed, but she decided to book.

But shortly afterward she saw a warning about the error from Vaccine Hunters Alberta on Twitter , cancelled the appointment, and rebooked a new one for Friday.

“Kudos to (Vaccine Hunters). I think we probably would have been left disappointed and later found out through the news that this was incorrect,” she said in an interview.

“If I hadn’t listened to that press conference (Tuesday) … I can definitely see how people would get into that trap and not get the right thing booked.”

Sarah Mackey with Vaccine Hunters Alberta said in one case a person reported driving all the way across town for an appointment that didn’t exist.

“If you’re a parent who, all you know is that the vaccines open today, you’re trying to rush around, get the kids ready, and you see something that’s available, you’re going to grab it,” she said in an interview.

Others reported only getting a single confirmation after booking appointments for multiple children, according to Mackey.

But despite the hiccups, Mackey said the booking system is much improved overall. Problems have been ironed out and new ones have been dealt with promptly, she said.

As of 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, 42,860 appointments were booked for pediatric doses, Health Minister Jason Copping announced on Twitter .

© Provided by Edmonton Journal

464 cases

Meantime, another 464 COVID-19 cases were reported in Alberta Wednesday and four more people have died from the disease.

By Wednesday there were 5,033 active cases in the province, including 1,132 the Edmonton Zone and 1,836 in the Calgary Zone. A total of 470 patients were hospitalized for COVID-19 with 97 of them in ICU.

Alberta received its first shipment of 394,000 child-size doses on Tuesday after Health Canada approved the vaccines on Friday. The health regulator said the pediatric dose is 90.7 per cent effective and there were no serious side effects.

— With files from Ashley Joannou

lboothby@postmedia.com

@laurby

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