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Local pharmacy tech instrumental in boosting vaccine rollout

Sherry Longo’s role in expanding vaccine’s reach in the Soo
Pharmasave Spotlight_Sherry Longo
Sherry Longo has worked as a pharmacy technician since 2013. She holds this position at two stores; she also works in injection services at West End Pharmasave (supplied photo).

Sherry Longo is humbled and honoured to play a part in delivering vaccines in Sault Ste. Marie. Were it not for her determination, the opportunity may never have arisen.

Longo has worked as a pharmacy technician since 2013. She holds this position at two stores; she also works in injection services at West End Pharmasave. 

“This is the first time pharmacy technicians have been authorized to do vaccines,” she says. Until now, the Ontario College of Pharmacists only allowed pharmacists to perform injections. For years Longo had thought technicians should be able to give injections under the supervision of the pharmacist on duty. 

“I found out in February that the College was changing their regulations temporarily to support the rollout of COVID vaccines,” Longo explains. “I jumped at the chance to take the course, but it was not available in Sault Ste. Marie. With the current travel restrictions, it was not feasible to go into Toronto or Ottawa.” 

Determined to make this happen, she contacted a company called Pharmachieve. They were providing the training courses, so she requested training locally in Sault Ste. Marie. They asked if someone in the region would be willing to host the sessions.

Longo quickly reached out to Superior EMS to see if they would be willing to host the in-class portion of the training. She called on a Saturday and by Monday learned that the course would be available nearby. 

“I was so excited! Although some of the training was online, we completed our practical component in person—with distancing and other safeguards in place,” she says. “We trained and got our certificates, but then nothing happened because there were no shipments of vaccines coming in.”

Thankfully, the wait turned out to be just a small setback. She soon got word that Jordan Jack, who owns West End Pharmasave (and co-owns East End Pharmasave with Sherry’s husband, Frank), had been notified that AstraZeneca was on the way.

“I’ve gotten a lot of experience in a short amount of time, injecting up to 100 people per day!” says Longo. “It’s an honour to be a part of this and I like to see people’s faces when they see we are closer to a solution. Lots of people are eager to get the vaccine. One wanted a selfie to show his grandchildren.”

West End Pharmasave will continue to offer vaccines as supply allows and by appointment only. Walk-in clinic services also continue to be available.

The East End Pharmasave location offers a variety of interesting and useful household goods, including a few that are great for entertainment and helping to pass the time. 

“We have puzzles and other goods to help people get through lockdown. We’ve been through four shipments of puzzles already. They just fly off the shelf! It’s been good to see people have something to look forward to, other than just picking up medications,” she says.

The pharmacists and pharmacy technicians at West End Pharmasave have your best interests in mind, offering vaccine appointments as supply allows and providing the products and services that help you live your best, healthiest life. They’ll soon be administering the Pfizer vaccine; just sign up through the West End Walk-in Clinic to get on the email list

For more information, visit West End Pharmasave at 658 Second Line West, #3. You can reach them by phone at 705-450-2622.

East End Pharmasave is located at 150 Churchill Boulevard in Churchill Plaza. For more information, call 705-450-4819.