Northern Health clarifies vaccine eligibility and booking appointments

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Over the weekend, Northern Health's website stated that all adults 18 and older who reside in the Terrace / Kitimat area could register for the COVID-19 vaccine. Unfortunately, in error, the provincial call center booked people into appointments who are not eligible. Currently, only residents 60 or older, indigenous people over 18 or the extremely vulnerable are qualified to schedule an appointment. Spokesperson Eryn Collins says Northern Health apologizes for the inconvenience and states its commitment to vaccinating the most vulnerable first. While it is positive that more people can receive the vaccine, there is still a lot of confusion regarding registering.

"So last week, we were in the process of moving to the new immunize BC vaccine registration platform in which people can do three things. Register, book their vaccines and then get their vaccines. We have opened up the ability to register and state what eligibility categories you fall into, that you want to be immunized, and the second step in that process is when you are notified that your age group is able to book an appointment, and then the second step takes place. So currently, the ability to register to be notified when your age group is eligible is right now open to everyone 18 and older in the Terrace area, but eligibility for appointment bookings we're still at the 60 and over age range."

Collins clarified that the vaccination clinic in Terrace was not in operation last Friday due to low bookings.

"That was a decision we made, to move the appointments that have been booked into this week's clinics. There were fewer appointments booked than we expected. We recognized that this had caused quite a bit of concern within the community, and we are sorry for that. The clinic had been immunizing the age-based and other groups eligible for appointments and to get the vaccine, including extremely vulnerable people. Still, at the same time, we were transitioning to that vaccine registration platform, and that has gone really well, but it's not as simple as just moving to the next group of people. That system is based on the provincial age-based eligibilities for appointments, so we couldn't quickly book people into a clinic day on a big scale, like by the hundreds out of the next or another eligible group. There are changes being made to that platform in the coming weeks, which will allow us to accelerate that approach in the north when and where we need to move into the next eligible cohort, so we make sure those clinics are running at full capacity."

Collins says the purpose of opening up registration to all adults is to aid the Health authority in determining how many residents want their jab. For more information regarding vaccinations within the Northwest, visit Northern Health's website.