Sudbury shifts to provincial system Saturday for booking COVID vaccines

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As of Saturday, Public Health Sudbury & Districts is shifting to the provincial online COVID-19 vaccine booking system for adults who are 70 and older.

In a news release Wednesday, the health unit said more than 96 per cent of adults aged 80 and older, and more than 80 per cent of adults ages 75-79 within its service area have been vaccinated or are booked for appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine.

"As a proportion of the population, Public Health has immunized just over 16 per cent of its population," the release said. "The comparable figure is 14.68 per cent for the province."

The progress in vaccinating residents means the health unit is opening appointment bookings on Saturday for adults 70 years of age and older in this calendar year. Also, as of Saturday, people aged 70 and older will have the new option to book online in addition to the phone booking system.

“I am very encouraged by the high demand for COVID-19 vaccine in our service area," Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health, said in the release.

"The smiles on faces of those immunized—and their families—and the many words of encouragement boost our Public Health team through the long hours and constant readjustments of this extraordinary province-wide vaccine rollout. The sense of forward momentum is palpable, even as we continue to respond to cases and local outbreaks of COVID-19.

While optimistic, Sutcliffe said the area is "at a tipping point."

"We are not out of the pandemic yet," she said. "With the rise in COVID-19 cases and the more transmissible variants of concern, we must stay the course until more people are immunized. I see this as the last stretch in our long pandemic marathon—we have to dig deep and know we have what it takes to get through this."

As of Saturday, people who are eligible to receive the vaccine have the option of booking an appointment by phone at 705-674-2299, toll-free 1-800-708-2505, between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., seven days a week. The alternate line is 1-844-782-2273, between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.

To use the provincial online booking system, visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/ as of Saturday.

"Public Health is aware of the challenges some people have experienced while calling to book appointments, and everyone’s patience is greatly appreciated," the release said.

"While the transition to the provincial system may reduce our flexibility to quickly adapt to local circumstances, it will help increase capacity for our call centre, improve accessibility, and allow larger volumes of people to book appointments."

If the online booking system indicates that no appointments are available, this means that the clinics are fully booked. Clinics will continue to be added by Public Health over time.

For more information or if you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit phsd.ca/COVID-19 or call the health unit at 705-522-9200, toll-free 1-866-522-9200.