Some B.C. residents frustrated by weeks-long wait to sync vaccination records as QR codes become mandatory

As the province began requiring British Columbians to present their vaccine card, complete with QR code, in order to access many non-essential businesses, some fully-vaccinated residents say they’ve been waiting weeks for their records to catch up.

Bruce and Carol Assman from South Surrey both had their first doses in April, and became fully vaccinated in June.

When the province announced the vaccine passport in early September, Bruce was able to input his dose details, and immediately download his pass.

Carol, on the other hand, had received her first dose two days before Bruce, before the new provincial vaccination system went into effect.

“What we’re told is the data from the Fraser Health system wasn’t uploaded system into the B.C. government system,” Bruce said.

That meant while Carol’s second dose officially appeared in the provincial system, her first did not, making her unable to download her passport.

Bruce said the couple was told to upload Carol’s records through the Service B.C. portal, which says it usually takes four to seven days to record the new records in the provincial registry.

Corrections could take longer, the page advises.

That was Sept. 8 or 9, and Bruce said they’re still waiting.

“Getting my wife’s card has been really frustrating and I just seem to be getting the runaround,” he said.

The Assmans have followed up with several phone calls.

They said they were told there’s a backlog of British Columbians trying to have their vaccine records from both in and out of province added to the system.

Now they’re worried further delays will mean they’ll have to scratch off any hope of going to restaurants or other businesses that require vaccine passports, at least for the immediate future.

“We’ve got family coming from Alberta next weekend and we won’t be able to go out and go anywhere with them,” Bruce said.

CTV News also spoke to Mary Jane Anthony of Vancouver, who received her second dose in the U.S.

Anthony said she also submitted her vaccine records via the portal on Sept. 9 and was told when she last called she could be waiting another month for the records to sync.

But because she got her first dose in B.C., she was able to download a vaccine card that reads “partially vaccinated,” enough to access non-essential businesses until Oct. 24.

Kevin Elke, who was working as a firefighter in Alberta earlier this year, and received both vaccinations out of province, told CTV News he was able to download his vaccine passport Sunday, after nearly three weeks.

“I think the public deserves to know just how far behind they are and that many of us, who have faithfully followed all public health directives may well find ourselves not being eligible to exercise the privileges of the vaccinated,” Elke wrote in an email.

It also appears those who got their vaccines relatively late also may be impacted.

After watching a live report on CTV News, Tanya Goble of North Vancouver, who received her first dose on Aug. 26, said she’d “pretty much given up” on trying to get her vaccine passport.

Like others, she had submitted a copy of her record online on Sep. 9. Goble said she was told the trouble in her case was that while the system showed her booking a vaccine appointment, for some reason it didn’t recognize she’d actually received the dose.

“It boggles my mind,” Goble, 40, said. “I can’t imagine if I was in my 70s and going through this,” she added.

CTV News reached out to the Ministry of Health, which said these "incidents" were "not common."

"The provincial team is creating incident tickets for individuals who have experienced vaccine record complications for follow-up to resolve these issues as quickly as possible," the ministry wrote in a statement Monday evening.

The ministry didn't answer questions about how big the backlog may be.

It also didn't say whether it would consider delaying the requirement to show a QR code, rather than a paper or other electronic vaccination record.

The statement said that while "every effort will be made to add your vaccine record as within four to seven days, however, this service will be impacted during periods of high volumes."

Those visiting B.C. from out of the province or country are able to use a variety of different types of records to prove vaccination status.

On Monday afternoon, several hours after the first version of this article was posted, Carol reached out to CTV News with an update: she was able to download her vaccine card.

Mary Jane Anthony, also named in the earlier story, also reached out with an update: “I just checked my status again and, lo & behold, my record has been updated and I’m now listed as fully vaccinated,” she wrote.

Health Minister Adrian Dix tweeted that, as of 11 a.m., 3,202,595 British Columbians had downloaded their vaccine card.

“If they’re that backlogged, they should be hiring more people to look after it," Bruce Assman said about the delays.

“I’m really disappointed with Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix for rolling out something that doesn’t work," Goble added.