Two weeks into another round of vaccinations, Waterloo Region residents are finding booking third dose vaccines to be a mixed bag of creative strategy, frustration and ease.
Cambridge resident Courtney Abrahams was unable to find a booster vaccine appointment despite logging on Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, the day of eligibility for adults aged 18 and above. She waited on the Region of Waterloo’s booking website for an hour in an online queue.
“There was nothing available for any location … and I had to manually click every single location and then every single date within that location to check availability, only to find zero availability,” says Abrahams.
Abrahams ended up booking an appointment in Halton Region where she works. It was the only available appointment she could find.
Meanwhile, on the exact same website, Cambridge resident Alana Scime says that “she was pretty happy with the appointment booking process.”
Scime managed to book her booster vaccine appointment on a Friday within the same week at Pinebush Clinic.
“It was an easy process overall,” says Scime.
Others, like Cambridge resident Kelly Hagan, faced long wait times before giving up. Hagan was frustrated after waiting on the Region of Waterloo’s website for 45 minutes trying to book an appointment. She was eventually able to find an appointment.
“I went back to the region’s booking site on Wednesday and managed to get an appointment for a booster on January 2nd,” says Hagan.
In an alternate scenario, Hagan’s boyfriend was able to find an appointment on the region’s booking site right away.
Lilian Toma, the volunteer behind the Waterloo Vaccine Tracker account, isn’t surprised that people are having such a tough time finding appointments. Toma’s own family had the same difficulties when booking first- and second-dose appointments back in 2021.
This frustration inspired Toma to start the Waterloo Vaccine Tracker account to help Waterloo Region residents to track down vaccines. The account has been revived to assist people in finding booster doses.
She says booking an appointment through the Region of Waterloo’s website can be time-consuming, seeing that you have to individually click on multiple locations to see available dates.
“I think to have one booking system that compiles all appointment information … including pharmacy appointments … across a region into one booking site would be very helpful.”
As of Jan. 7, 192,411 booster doses had been given out in Waterloo Region, but for now, securing appointments will remain a bittersweet tug-of-war.
STORY BEHIND THE STORY: When reporter Genelle Levy faced multiple obstacles in booking her own booster shot appointment, she decided to explore what the process was like for other members of the community.
Genelle Levy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cambridge Times