Manitoba pharmacists caught off guard by newest provincial health order

Pharmacists Manitoba says it was unaware pharmacists would be needed to provide rapid COVID-19 tests for youth next month, prior to health officials’ announcement Friday.

Furthermore, the organization says pharmacists aren’t yet permitted to do so.

“At this point, pharmacists in Manitoba are only able to administer and interpret tests for travel purposes,” says Pharmacists Manitoba president Ashley Hart.

“So there does need to be some changes made to the ministerial order that allowed us to do this, to expand it to include the new age group and purpose.”

On Friday, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, announced those aged 12 to 17 will need to provide proof of at least one vaccine, or a recent negative test, to take part in indoor recreational sports.

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The provincewide order takes effect Dec. 6.

Roussin said the testing will need to be done at participating pharmacies, and won’t be allowed through free provincial test sites.

“We weren’t consulted, unfortunately, before the news release was made, however we’ve been in contact with Manitoba Health and government since,” Hart says.

“We do appreciate that we have some time before this is implemented, and so we are anticipating the necessary changes will be made in time for that.”

The Manitoba government has so far not responded to Global News’ questions about how soon pharmacists will be given the legal go-ahead to administer and interpret the tests, or why they weren’t consulted ahead of Friday’s announcement.

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Hart says she’s uncertain how many pharmacies have the equipment in place to provide the rapid antigen tests, but expects more will be added to the list as demand grows.

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She adds it typically only takes between 15 and 30 minutes to administer the test and receive the results.

“We’re happy to provide the service once we acknowledge that we have some time before it comes into effect,” Hart says.

“We just encourage the government to consult us on these types of things in the future as well so that we can avoid confusion for the public.”

-with files from Shane Gibson

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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