Frustration mounts as vaccination booking system hits more snags

·2 min read
People 70 and older became move up their second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week but many said it was hard to find any appointments in Ottawa through the provincial booking system. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press - image credit)
People 70 and older became move up their second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week but many said it was hard to find any appointments in Ottawa through the provincial booking system. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press - image credit)

Ottawa residents who became eligible to rebook their appointments for a second COVID-19 vaccination Monday ran into more problems with the provincial system, prompting the city's mayor to call for more vaccine doses.

On Monday morning, people 70 and older, as well people who got their first shot before April 18, became eligible to change their booking for their second dose.

Michael Kornecook, 79, was hoping to move up his appointment in Kanata, but when he first logged on the system showed no available appointments in Ottawa. When he tried again, the queue was frozen.

I want this vaccine so badly. I just want to feel safe. - Dianne Henderson

More than three hours later, he tried a third time and found an available appointment in Orléans, but because it was only three days before his scheduled job, he decided against it.

"Most people would just give up and say, 'I'm not going to bother.' That sort of defeats the whole purpose of having an earlier vaccine schedule," Kornecook said.

He assumed the problem was with the supply.

"I'm wondering why the second-largest city of Ontario has a shortage," he said.

Dianne Henderson said she lost her existing July 31 appointment for a second dose after declining a July 10 appointment in Cornwall, Ont.

"I was beyond horrified," Henderson said. "I want this vaccine so badly. I just want to feel safe... Everybody I talk to, that's their sole focus, is getting a vaccine as quickly as possible."

On Monday evening, Henderson said she was able to book an appointment for her second dose for next week by calling the provincial COVID-19 hotline.

Mayor wants 40,000 doses

Mayor Jim Watson is calling on the Ontario government to send 40,000 doses of vaccine as soon as possible to deal with the demand created when second doses were accelerated.

"I've stressed to the premier that he's got to get this issue sorted once and for all," Watson said. "We're not the only city in this situation."

Watson said he wants those doses to get to city-run mass vaccination clinics.

Anthony Di Monte, head of the city's vaccine task force, said traffic from Ottawa overwhelmed the provincial booking system on Monday, but said 27,000 bookings were successfully made.

In a memo addressed to council, Di Monte recommended people try logging back onto the website as new appointments are continually being added, or reaching out to pharmacies for an accelerated second dose.

The Ministry of Health did not respond by deadline to CBC's request for comment about booking issues and vaccine supply in Ottawa.

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