Rapid test kits: Some Quebecers go empty-handed, even after making an appointment at the pharmacy

Rapid test kits: Some Quebecers go empty-handed, even after making an appointment at the pharmacy

MONTREAL — Some Quebecers say they’re leaving pharmacies empty-handed after trying to get their hands on sough-after free COVID-19 rapid-testing kits — even though they made appointments in advance.

Lisa Williams says she made an appointment online Monday to pick up a kit at a Jean Coutu in Lachine, but was turned away because she didn’t have a file at that pharmacy. But in the meantime, her family members picked up kits at other locations without a hitch, she said.

“My sister and brother-in-law picked up their test kits today at pharmacies, Jean Coutus, that they do not have files at,” she told CTV News.

Pharmacy owners can choose whether to distribute kits to the general public or to recurring customers, according to Quebec’s association representing pharmacy owners (AQPP).

“Each pharmacist-owner is therefore proceeding according to his or her own reality in order to manage the influx of people into the pharmacy,” an AQPP representative told CTV.

“This is only done because of the limited availability of tests at this time.”

Although Williams had intended to get a kit from her usual pharmacy, the Jean Coutu website informed her there were “no availabilities” there, leading her to make an appointment elsewhere.

But the website did not indicate which locations offered kits exclusively to those with a file, and the AQPP did not clarify whether pharmacies are required to share that information with the public.

Jean Coutu declined to comment to CTV and referred all questions to the AQPP.

Williams said the lack of communication is frustrating for those attempting to go “by the book” when it comes to COVID prevention.

“We’re just trying to have a safe Christmas,” she said.

Every Quebecer over 14 is eligible for a kit of five free rapid tests per month.

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