KITCHENER -- Select pharmacies in Waterloo Region and the Guelph area have received a new shipment of vaccines and are getting ready to start taking patients.

Shipments of Astra-Zenenca arrived in the area on Sunday for appointments that one pharmacist says are going fast.

“Well it’s fantastic to be given the opportunity to be part of the solution,” said Bryan Langel, the owner of Shoppers Drug Mart on Dundas Street in Cambridge.

As part of phase two of the pharmacy rollout, 360 additional pharmacies across Ontario will get the vaccine in the coming days.

The 22 locations in Waterloo Region and Guelph are expected to get the Astra-Zeneca this week as well and are making appointments for anyone 55 or older.

The Shoppers in Cambridge has already received 1,200 doses.

“We will be taking and booking and vaccinating patients until all doses are done,” said Langel. “We are all hands on deck for this.”

The first dose will go in an arm at 9 a.m. on Monday for the first of many appointments already booked at the location.

“People have booked and they can book right now,” said Langel. “We are not at 100 per cent capacity right now, but after one day of it being available we are 50 per cent booked.”

He adds that they’ve fielded calls with questions about the safety of Astra-Zeneca due to the rare possibility of blood clots.

“There has been a small amount of hesitancy, but overall we do believe this is going to greatly improve our chances of beating this pandemic,” said Langel. “Most of those people have a hesitancy to vaccines in general.”

The Astra-Zeneca vaccine has been approved for those 55 and older by Health Canada, who say the benefits outweigh the risk.

The Ontario Pharmacy Association says the number of people booking appointments indicate the public is very willing to get the Astra-Zeneca vaccine.

“We are seeing high demand,” said Justin Bates, the CEO of the OPA. “The volume is significant. I know many pharmacies have a waitlist that’s hundreds if not thousands of patients.

“We are very close to phase three, in two weeks we’ll be launching another 800 pharmacies, so that path to getting all pharmacies on board has been accelerated.”

Bates adds that they are hoping to expand the types of vaccines they can offer.

“It’s very much supply dependent, so that’s why we are advocating for a mix of vaccines,” he said. “We are hopeful that there will be more vaccines, in fact, we are advocating for Pfizer and Moderna to be introduced into the pharmacy channel.”