Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows off a vile of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Friday, March 12, 2021. A national advisory committee recommends people 30 and older can get a shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine if they do not want to wait for an mRNA alternative. Photo: Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows off a vile of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Friday, March 12, 2021. A national advisory committee recommends people 30 and older can get a shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine if they do not want to wait for an mRNA alternative. Photo: Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Pharmacies in Cranbrook, Castlegar receive AstraZeneca vaccine

It’s the first time the vaccine has been made available in the Kootenays

Six pharmacies in Cranbrook and four in Castlegar are the first in the Kootenays to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

The province began making the vaccine available in pharmacies across the province in April, but the Kootenays were the one region excluded from the rollout.

Interior Health said in a release Friday that a small number of doses had been sent to locations in Cranbrook and Castlegar for people ages 30 and older.

In Cranbrook, appointments can be booked at Loblaw Pharmacy, Pharmasave Health Centre, Safeway Pharmacy, Save-on-Foods Pharmacy, Shoppers Drug Mart and Wal-Mart Pharmacy.

In Castlegar, the vaccine is available at Columbia River Pharmacy, Pharmasave, Safeway Pharmacy and Shoppers Drug Mart.

Interior Health did not say if other cities such as Nelson or Trail would receive the vaccine. Chief medical health officer Dr. Albert de Villiers said Friday he isn’t sure how much of the vaccine will come to the region.

“The more we can get the vaccine out to smaller communities, it’s great,” de Villiers said. “As soon as we get more vaccine and as that supply gets more stable, hopefully we’ll be able to push it out to more communities.”

AstraZeneca is one of four vaccines approved for use in Canada. It requires two doses and currently isn’t recommended for people under the age of 30.

Although health authorities recommend the vaccine, it is currently being investigated by the federal health ministry for possible causing four cases of serious complications out of the approximately 400,000 Canadians who have received it.

That includes a Quebec woman who died of a blood clot after receiving the vaccine.

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