B.C.'s online registration system for COVID-19 vaccine appointments will open to eligible adults on Tuesday morning, as the province overhauls its current program for making bookings.
The new "Get Vaccinated" system will be available at 8 a.m. PT, according to a statement. People who are 71 and older — those born in 1950 or earlier — and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be able to register online to book their appointment, as will Indigenous people who are 18 and older.
The launch of the province-wide portal comes as case numbers spike in B.C., with a record-high daily total on Saturday of 1,072 new infections and an outbreak within the Vancouver Canucks squad.
A new provincial call centre for booking vaccination appointments will also open Tuesday at 8 a.m. PT.
The ministry said the online portal and single provincial call centre will replace the five regional call centres currently being used to register patients and book vaccine appointments.
The changes to the vaccine booking process mean B.C. is moving into Phase 3 of its four-phase vaccination plan, the statement said.
"We have worked diligently and tirelessly to get this online registration, booking and tracking system ready for British Columbians," said Dr. Penny Ballem, the executive lead of B.C.'s COVID-19 immunization program.
"Now, with the help of the new online and single phone number system, we're ready to move onto the next phase."
The province faced criticism last month for not having an online registration system ready to go when Phase 2 of the age-based vaccination program began, as call centres in each health authority were initially overwhelmed.
To date, the Fraser Health region was the only one where residents could book an appointment online instead of risking an hours-long wait when booking by phone.
How the online system will work
Residents can register online when it is their turn and receive a confirmation code. They will then wait for an email, text or call telling them they are eligible and can then book their vaccine appointment.
The new provincial website will be available in 12 languages.
People aged 55-65 on the Lower Mainland are still eligible to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at a participating pharmacy near them, and the province said it will announce details about expanding the program to other regions in the days ahead. That vaccination stream is running parallel to the age-based program.
To date, nearly 770,000 eligible B.C. residents — or one in six — have received their first dose of vaccine, and more than 87,000 have received their second dose, the province said.
If B.C.'s vaccine supply is delivered as scheduled, the province said everyone who is eligible for the vaccine will receive their first dose by the end of June.