Vaccine policy change confuses, frustrates parents at start of 2022

Parents desperate to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 are frustrated after Ontario’s booking system allowed them to book an appointment, but they later found out a policy change means children have to wait for their birthday before getting a shot.

Children now must be 5 before their 1st vaccine dose, 18 before they can get a booster

Parent describes ‘utter chaos’ after being turned away at son’s vaccine appointment

2 years ago
Duration 0:42
Featured VideoJeff Outram says his family was turned away after arriving at an appointment to vaccinate his four-year-old son, who turns five in March. In 2021, children were eligible to be vaccinated the year they turn five, though they’ll have to wait for their actual birthday to get the shot in 2022.

Parents desperate to get vaccinations and boosters for their children are frustrated by the disconnect between Ontario's booking system and the changing rules around who's eligible for the shots.

Children who turned five in 2021 were able to get their first dose before their birthday, but this year children will have to wait until their fifth birthday to get their first dose.

The same policy is now in place for 17-year-olds who want to book appointments for their booster dose. They have to turn 18 first.

That policy, while on paper, didn't stop families from successfully booking appointments for their children in the Ontario vaccine booking system starting Saturday, Jan. 1.

When parents like Jeff Outram arrived to get their child vaccinated, they were turned away at the community vaccination clinic. 

"There's a lot of confusion around this," said Outram, whose son Henry turns five in March.

"My wife is an ICU nurse and we're exposed, so we're trying to take every precaution. And you can imagine the frustration just comes with that of trying to protect our little ones." 

Karla Randell's daughter is turning 18 in three weeks, but she wasn't able to get a booster dose at a community vaccine clinic in Ottawa. (Supplied by Karla Randell)

Karla Randell was also turned away while trying to get a booster dose for her daughter who turns 18 later this month.  

"It's frustrating ... it just seems like there's so much misinformation out there," said Randell.

Some parents did report successful trips to a vaccine clinic in the first few days of January. Carl Flintoff says his daughter was able to get a vaccine dose at the Nepean Sportsplex

"When I arrived I was expecting them to turn me away, but they verified her health card and sent us through. ... I was very happy and relieved to get her vaccine," said Flintoff.

Ottawa's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches, told CBC on Monday the province is working to correct its booking system to erase the confusion, and children need to be five years old before getting their first dose.