‘It shouldn’t be this hard to get a booster shot’: British Columbians vaccinated out-of-country facing difficulties

'It shouldn't be this hard to get a booster shot': British Columbians vaccinated out-of-country facing difficulties

As B.C. battles its fifth wave of COVID-19 with record numbers of daily cases, the booster shot program on Vancouver Island is expanding.

“I’m ecstatic, I’m pretty grateful. It’s been pretty touch and go on if we were able to get in or not,” said Claudia Malacrida, who was relieved to receive her booster shot ahead of Christmas

At Oak Bay’s Fort Royal Pharmacy, a last-minute delivery means a safer holiday season for many.

“We received over 500 doses of the Moderna for the booster program and we opened up our slots today and pretty much filled up within five minutes,” said Hans Bawa, who manages Fort Pharmacy Oak Bay.

As the provincial program rushes to get shots into arms as quickly as it can, the Omicron variant surges and Ron Norman and Joan Young are being left behind.

“It shouldn’t be this hard to get a booster shot. It shouldn’t be this hard,” said Norman.

They’re 68 and 69 years old. It’s been over eight months since they had their second Johnson and Johnson vaccine out of the country.

As of December 15, those who have been vaccinated with Johnson and Johnson were eligible for their booster, but B.C.’s system doesn’t recognize it.

As a result, after weeks of battling the healthcare system, this couple is now heading into the holidays less protected.

“They just said they couldn’t do anything which just seems crazy!” said Norman.

“Ya, nobody can override their computer,” said Young.

Since the posting of this story, the Ministry of Health has been able to rectify both Norman’s and Young’s situation, however, Immunizations BC says it’s dealing with a small percentage who received a vaccine out of the country with the same issue.

READ MORE: Island Health’s testing centres to be open Christmas Day amid significant increase in demand

Meanwhile, as case counts reach record numbers on Vancouver Island, the demand for COVID-19 tests is skyrocketing, with Island Health fielding an unprecedented 2,400 calls per day.

A large portion of these calls is coming from people who don’t have any symptoms, who, the health authority says, are trying to get tested for social reasons in the absence of publicly available rapid antigen tests.

That’s creating delays for everyone, notes the health authority.

Health officials are imploring the public that only people with symptoms should be calling for a COVID-19 test.

To deal with the backlog, Island Health is keeping its testing sites open on December 25, adding more staff and testing capacity over the holidays and into the new year.

But people are being warned, they can still expect a wait.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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