Long waits persist at Winnipeg COVID-19 vaccination supersite despite province's assurances

A woman says her trip to the Winnipeg COVID-19 supersite on Monday was "chaotic," despite assurances from the province that staffing issues have been sorted out.

Scheduling glitch on Friday led to hours-long delays at same site

A scheduling program malfunction meant dozens of people had longer than normal waits at the Winnipeg vaccination supersite on Friday. Long waits continued on Monday, according to Michelle Painchaud, who took her parents there that afternoon. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

A woman says her trip to the Winnipeg COVID-19 supersite on Monday was "chaotic," despite assurances from the province that staffing issues have been sorted out.

On Monday afternoon, Michelle Painchaud listened to the 12:30 p.m. COVID-19 update for Manitoba and heard from public health officials the wait at the Winnipeg vaccination supersite was less than half an hour.

Painchaud's 79-year-old father and 77-year-old mother had appointments for later that afternoon and she had planned to take them because of their mobility issues.

"Based on what we heard earlier about the 20-minute wait, we were quite excited that that was going to be the expectation. And upon arrival, it was quite chaotic," she said.

"We were there for an hour and a half, maybe longer."

On Friday, a scheduling program glitch meant dozens of people with appointments at the RBC Convention Centre waited in line for up to two hours.

Health officials said at the time the waits were due to a large number of appointments as well as issues related to scheduling software, which led to a shortage of staff.

On Monday, Dr. Joss Reimer,  the medical lead for Manitoba's vaccine task force, offered apologies to those who waited and said the team worked together to ensure the delays were short lived.

"Since then, we've taken a number of steps to improve our staffing, improve our patient flow. And the situation did stabilize and improve over the weekend," she said.

In an email, a spokesperson for the province wrote that wait times on Monday were about 25 minutes on the 3rd floor of the convention centre and about an hour on the first floor, which is equipped for people with mobility issues. 

When Gary Hornby took his 93-year-old mother to get her second dose of the vaccine on Sunday afternoon, however, the process took about two hours.

He said that wait was unexpected because it only took about 45 minutes to get her first dose three weeks ago.

"There was a certain level of frustration. Now, that might be what people would deem a first-world problem," he said.

But after the province reviewed Friday's issues, Hornby expected the problems would have been addressed.

"They should be clearly communicating to people what sort of wait they can expect, so you can be prepared."

Painchaud agreed the delays are "frustrating, really just disappointing."

"When people are having to wait and don't really understand why they have to wait or what the process is ... it's stressful and just uncomfortable," she said. 


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