COVID vaccines in B.C.: New province-wide online booking system launches

B.C.'s province-wide online vaccination booking system launched Tuesday morning, with what appeared to be very few issues for users.

The province began its mass vaccination program last month, opening call centres in each health authority to take appointments.

The phone lines were jammed soon after, with more than 1.7 million calls within the first few hours.

The Fraser Health authority was initially the only region to offer online booking.

Users reported issues with that system as well, with the website crashing.

B.C.'s health ministry addressed the issues on both systems not long after and has spent the past several weeks testing the new province-wide online and phone systems.

“What we’ve done over the last couple of weeks, we’ve used the web portal for registrations in the hundreds of thousands involving our call centre operators. So we’ve tested the system for significant numbers and it’s worked well,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix.

The online portal was scheduled to launch Tuesday at 8 a.m., but was up and running an hour beforehand.

The province also launched a single call centre, rather than having individual ones available for each health authority. That number is 1-833-838-2323.

Bernie Maroney says he was able to register online in under two minutes on his phone Tuesday morning.

“I'm glad that they're finally doing it, actually, I would have thought that they'd be a little more proactive about it,” said Maroney.

His only complaint was the number of pages he had to click through before getting to the registration page itself.

“As with most government online processes, it's a little confuddled. You have to work through a few pages to find the right place to be able to do it,” Maroney told CTV News.

Here's how the registration system works:

Register

Eligible British Columbians can register online, by phone, or at a Service BC Centre. You will need to provide your full name, your date of birth, postal code, health number, and an email address or a phone number that can receive texts. Once you are registered, you will be sent a confirmation code by text or email. This process may take up to 24 hours.

Booking

You will be contacted to book a vaccine appointment when you are eligible based on your age and the province’s vaccine rollout plan. Booking will be made by appointment online or by phone. You will select a location, date and time.

Vaccination

After you visit the clinic and get vaccinated you will be given a certificate. You will be notified by email, text or phone call when you are eligible to book an appointment for your second dose.

Eligibility

Starting Tuesday, those born in 1950 and before, Indigenous people 18 and older, and those who have been identified by the province as clinically vulnerable are eligible to book an appointment.

The health ministry encouraged those 65 and older to register through the new province-wide system Tuesday, so they would be contacted directly when it is their turn.

Though, the online portal allowed anyone over the age of 18 to register for an alert.

Pharmacy program

The province’s pharmacy vaccination program is running parallel to the new booking system. Those aged 55 to 65 in the Lower Mainland can still register to get a dose of AstraZeneca vaccine at participating pharmacies.

Dix says the program is expanding to other parts of the province, with doses on the way to Northern B.C, the Interior and Vancouver Island.

As of 11am this morning we have had 93,031 people register for their vaccine.
82,249 people registered using the online tool, 10,872 registered on the phone.
26,655 booking invitations were sent to registered people and 14,752 appointments were booked.

— Adrian Dix (@adriandix) April 6, 2021