B.C.-wide online vaccine booking set for Tuesday launch

Eligible British Columbians will first need to register before being able to book vaccination

Photo: Government of B.C.

British Columbians across the province eligible to register for their COVID-19 vaccine shots will be able to do so using an online platform beginning Tuesday.

Fraser Health is the only health authority on the West Coast that has been offering online bookings since the province’s mass vaccination campaign rolled out one month ago.

The remaining four health authorities have been booking vaccinations via call centres maintained by Telus Corp. (TSX:T).

But beginning Tuesday, people born in 1950 and earlier, Indigenous people 18 and older, and those considered clinically extremely vulnerable will be able to register for a vaccination at gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated as early as 8 a.m.

Eligible British Columbians will also be able to book in person at a Service BC location or else phone the provincial call centre at 1-833-838-2323.

The province is urging residents to wait until their age cohort is eligible to book before attempting to schedule an appointment.

Once someone registers, they’ll receive a confirmation code and will need to await a prompt from authorities via email, text or phone informing them they can book the appointment itself.

The online booking platform will be accessible in 12 different languages upon Tuesday’s launch.

Last week Health Minister Adrian Dix revealed the province-wide online booking system would launch this week, slightly ahead of the previously planned April 12 launch date.

Last month’s initial booking rollout proved to be chaotic, with the Telus call centres receiving 1.7 million calls within three hours of phone lines opening up on March 8.

Meanwhile, more booking bottlenecks emerged last week when the province began offering the AstraZeneca plc vaccine at 150 local pharmacies within the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions to those between the ages of 55 and 65.

This came after B.C. suspended the use of the vaccine for those under 55 amid growing global concerns it was linked to a small number of cases of blood clots to have emerged in those who have received the jab.

London Drugs Ltd. ended up booking all of its appointments a day before scheduling was supposed to begin, while Save-On-Foods suggested people call its customer service line at 1-800-242-9229 after some reports of problems accessing the company’s online waiting list.

Since then, the province and BC Pharmacy Association announced additional AstraZeneca vaccine doses would be arriving at 488 pharmacies as early as Monday.