Government says re-booking second doses going smoothly, but some seniors beg to differ

Three days into allowing Quebecers to move up their appointments for a second dose of COVID-19 vaccines, the provincial government is insisting things are going smoothly, but some are taking exception with that version of events.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Health Ministry said that “despite some necessary adjustments, the appointment system works well. It is indeed very successful in recognizing the people registered, as well as the nature of the vaccine received during the first appointment.”

On Monday, the province rolled out a new system that would allow some Quebecers who received their first doses to move up their appointments to an earlier date. Initially, a 16 week gap was given between doses, but with the availability of vaccines increasing, that was changed to eight weeks. As of Monday, Quebecers who are 80 or older were eligible to reschedule, with each business day that minimum age decreasing by five years.

But on Monday, several Montreal residents told CTV News they had had issues navigating the Clic Sante portal, with many others taking to social media to express their frustration with repeated error messages and other technical issues.

In their statement, the government acknowledged some issues with the portal, saying it was “most likely due to a mismatch in personal information or missing information when making the first dose appointment. Time slots are available in sufficient quantity for everyone.”

But 70-year-old Michael Ryshpan said that he, too, encountered numerous headaches in his quest to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Early on Wednesday, just after midnight, he attempted to book his new appointment but received an error message telling him he was not yet eligible.

He said he tried once more at 8 a.m. and received the same error. After trying a third time after breakfast, he encountered a new problem.

“Now, it gave me an error message saying 'We can't identify you,'” he said.

Ryshpan sent a screengrab of the error message to CTV News. The message states that “It is possible that there were identification errors during your first appointment” and Ryshpan could “go to a walk-in vaccination clinic in your area to correct your information, you will be able to receive your vaccine at the same time.”

He said he went to Decarie Square, where he received his first dose, only to once again be stymied as he was told the clinic was not taking walk-ins.

After showing a print-out of the Clic Sante error message and refusing to leave, Ryshpan was eventually given his vaccine, but said while at Decarie Square, he saw dozens of people turned away for similar reasons.

“There were other people who actually got e-mails to go to the vaccination centre to get their shots. These people were all being turned away,” he said. “I hold Clic Sante and the government totally responsible for this. I heard a lot of people complaining they were getting errors.”

In their statement, the government advises that those who continue to have difficulties booking their second shots ask a loved one for help, or head to a walk-in clinic to correct their information and get their second vaccine. Failing that, the government said there is one more option: keeping your original vaccination date, which could be months away.  

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