Call centres in British Columbia received 1.7 million calls on Monday morning in the first two-and-a-half hours they were open to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments for some of the province’s oldest residents.
The call centres opened at 7 a.m. across the province to make appointments for people 90 years and older, and Indigenous people who are 65 and older or identify as elders.
Health Minister Adrian Dix says there are about 47,000 people in the province who are 90 and up and 35,000 who are Indigenous people over 65.
That’s a total of 82,000 people eligible for the next wave of vaccinations but Dix says about 26,000 of those have already had their shots, so only 56,000 people were eligible to call today.
“What we opened today was for a relatively small group of people and we had a huge response,” Dix says. “If you’re not eligible to call in this week, please don’t call in.”
“Calling this week if you’re outside the age group will not speed up your chance but it may delay others,” adds Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Call centres are experiencing a large influx of calls. More than 1.4 million calls in the first 90 mins, which is far more than the number of seniors eligible to book their vaccine appointment. Please help the most at-risk get through to book their appointment by:
— BC Government News (@BCGovNews) March 8, 2021
Health officials ask that only one person call the booking hotline on behalf of an eligible senior.
There are still five days left to book for people in the allotted age groups before health officials begin booking the next age category.
The phone line is the only option to book for those outside of Fraser Health, which has an online booking system.
But a web-based system will be available sometime in April to help make the process quicker and more efficient.
Dix says the “enormous” response today reflects the significant support for vaccination in the province.
Late Monday night, Dix announced on Twitter nearly 15,000 COVID-19 appointments had been booked in B.C., with 2,395 of those within Island Health.
Across the province we made significant progress on bookings.
VCH had some problems early in the day and we have been working with them throughout the day and will continue tomorrow to get their bookings back on track.
— Adrian Dix (@adriandix) March 9, 2021
Call centres will remain open until 7 p.m. PST each day.
Information about British Columbia’s vaccination program can be found online on the B.C. Government’s website.