B.C. residents warn of glitches in COVID-19 vaccine registration system
Problems with health card numbers, lack of available appointments cited as sources of confusion
Some B.C. residents are raising concerns about glitches in the province's vaccine registration — warning others to double check their information if they don't receive a notification text or email, or if they see no available vaccination appointments in their community.
Over 50 per cent of adults in the province have now had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. By Friday evening the province will be inviting adults born in 1996 or earlier to book their appointment for a first dose.
B.C.'s online booking system asks residents to register using their name and health card number, and then sends a text or email notification when it's their turn to book.
But 36-year-old Lori Gallacher said that when her time to book came, she didn't receive a text when her friends of the same age did. She said some of her friends called Vancouver Coastal Health and were able to book an appointment, so she decided to do the same.
The first person she spoke to at the health authority said she would receive a notification within 48 hours. When Gallacher, who has a newborn baby and lives in Richmond, called back a second time, a different operator said there was a problem with her health care number in the system, which explained why she hadn't yet gotten a notification.
Gallacher said the operator couldn't say why a glitch had occurred or exactly what it was, but was able to fix it and book her appointment.
"There was no indication that there was anything wrong and I would never have known if I'd been waiting for the text," she said.
"I thought to myself — how many people who are eligible for the vaccine are not getting the notification, but are unaware that there's this glitch in the system so they're just going to continue to wait without any idea that they're never going to get the text?"
The province of B.C. did not immediately respond to CBC News requests about the reported glitches with the system.
Lack of appointments
Madeline Taylor, who lives in New Westminster, woke up on Thursday morning to a text saying they were now eligible to book an appointment. But when Taylor looked on the website, it appeared that there were no vaccination appointments available in their city.
Confused, Taylor scoured social media for information on what to do next and eventually called the province's information line and confirmed appointments were available in nearby Surrey.
But Taylor said the way the calendar of appointments in New Westminster was laid out was confusing and it was initially unclear if people could book in another city.
"I think even one line of text in the initial text message or email saying that appointments will pop up as they're available [would help]," they said.
"Going onto the website and seeing that there was just nothing was very confusing because it didn't even display that available appointments were booked — it just had no appointments available, ever."
Still, Taylor said they cried in relief once their booking went through.
"I'm not going to lie, I cried a lot. I'm very excited to have any level of relief and be able to eventually be in proximity to the people I love again. It feels good not to be as afraid of a deadly virus."
Gallacher said she, too, is excited to finally be vaccinated after over more than year of uncertainty.
"It's honestly really exciting, there's that light at the end of the tunnel there and there's a lifting of this anxiety and this worry that we've been feeling for this year now," she said.
With files from Joel Ballard