Phone lines to book COVID-19 vaccinations for the general public opened on Monday morning, and apparently they did so with a bang.
Call centres across the province received nearly two million calls within the first two hours of operation on March 8th, according to Health Minister Adrian Dix, and a whopping 1.4 million of those came in within the first 90 minutes.
This is problematic for a few reasons, though mostly due to the fact that appointments are only being given to seniors above the age of 90, or Indigenous peoples above the age of 65 at this time.
Due to the influx of calls, those who are actually eligible are experiencing massive wait times.
In a press conference on Monday morning, Dix noted that in BC, there are about 47,000 British Columbians over the age of 90 and 35,000 Indigenous peoples above the age of 65.
“We’re getting some calls beyond that group of people,” he said. “Obviously, some people are calling multiple times as well.”
“I very much appreciate the enthusiasm of everybody calling in but I would ask that people allow those who are eligible this week to book appointments to have priority,” Dix stressed.
He also added that exact numbers for how many people have been able to successfully book appointments thus far would be available during Monday’s 3 p.m. COVID-19 update.
In a social media post, BC Government also included a few tips for those calling into the booking lines, including:
• Don’t have more than one person calling on behalf of an eligible senior.
• Remember you can call later in the week and you won’t miss your turn. All 5 call centres are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST, 7 days a week and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on holidays.
• If you get a busy tone or “call cannot be completed as dialed” message, please call back a few hours later or the next day.
• Wait until it’s your turn to book — if you are not eligible, you won’t be able to book an appointment.
“Thank you for your help as we work to book as many seniors as possible!”, they added.
Clinic locations across Victoria have recently been announced, with vaccinations starting as early as March 15th, and people can book their appointment by calling 1-833-348-4787.