Northern Health says vaccine appointment delays should end with provincial booking system

·2 min read
The vaccine clinic at the Prince George Conference and Civic Centre.  (Andrew Kurjata/CBC - image credit)
The vaccine clinic at the Prince George Conference and Civic Centre. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC - image credit)

Some residents of Northern B.C. have been surprised and frustrated by limitations to the vaccine appointment booking system being used by Northern Health, which is requiring people to make multiple calls in order to schedule an appointment.

Vicky Larsen says she had to call three times to make an appointment for her 83-year-old mother and, by the time one was finally scheduled, she couldn't get in until mid-April even though she's been eligible since March 10.

"They said 'Prince George is full, try in a few days,'" Larsen said in a written message to CBC.

So she did and was once again given the same message. It was only on the third try she managed to get an April 15 appointment, at which point she was told if she'd wanted the appointment earlier, she should have called earlier.

Northern Health has acknowledged the delays, which it attributes to their current phone-based booking system but says the problem should be solved when the province rolls out an online solution sometime in April.

"Right now, [bookings are] being operated through health authorities and health authority call centres," said Tanis Hampe, Northern Health's vice-president of pandemic response. "The demand started to exceed the clinic capacity."

Hampe says bookers are still scheduling in excess of 1,800 appointments a week in Prince George and also handled the distribution of more than 7,000 vaccines in just over a week in Prince Rupert but capacity is building every day.

The vaccine clinic setup in the Prince George Conference and Civic Centre.
The vaccine clinic setup in the Prince George Conference and Civic Centre.(Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

She says she understands people's frustrations, but says everyone in eligible age groups who wants a vaccine will be able to get one in the weeks ahead.

"We thank them for their patience and guarantee they will have an appointment."

Hampe said she expects the provincewide booking system to come online at some point in April.

To hear more on Northern Health's vaccine rollout, tap the audio below.

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