LONDON, ONT. -- London is lagging behind other Ontario municipalities in a program that permits pharmacies to administer COVID-19 vaccinations.

There are only two pharmacies in London, the Costco on Wonderland Rd and the Shoppers Drug Mart on Fanshawe Park Rd W., permitted to administer shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine to adults 55 and older.

“Guelph has twice that many, Ingersoll has two, St. Thomas has two, London has two. Hamilton has ten. The Waterloo Region has 18,” explained Mayor Ed Holder during a media briefing. “So given our size the fact we have just two is not acceptable.”

With variants on the rise, pressure is mounting to get COVID-19 vaccine into arms as quickly as possible.

Middlesex-London Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie says he’d like to start diversifying vaccination locations soon.

“Right now we are very much focused on the mass clinics because that’s the most efficient way to use staff resources to get vaccine into arms quickly,” Mackie told the media briefing. “But (we’re) looking to diversify into pharmacies and primary care over the next week or two.”

Holder has brought the inequity to the attention of the Premier.

“I’ve reached out to the Premier to push for more vaccines for pharmacies in London,” he says.

Meanwhile, Middlesex-London has three mass vaccination clinics in operation, two in London and one in Mount Brydges.

There remains no timeline to open the fourth inside the Earl Nichols Arena in south London.

Dr. Mackie explains the supply of vaccine received from the province determines how many locations are needed.

“We have 11,000 Moderna vaccine (coming in )mid-April and 8,000 in late April that will increase capacity on average over that period. That works out to about 1,000 per day,” he explains.

Mackie adding,

“We are no where close to testing the capacity of the three clinics that are open. So we need to see probably that number again in order to justify opening a fourth clinic.”