Ottawa

Vaccination appointments fill up fast as age lowered to 18+

The province opened the COVID-19 vaccination floodgates Tuesday morning, and within two and a half hours all available appointments in Ottawa had been booked. 

Mayor blasts province for 'frustrating and unfair' rollout

People arrive for their COVID-19 vaccination appointment at a clinic in Ottawa's Nepean Sportsplex on March 30, 2021. Appointments are currently full for clinics in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The province opened the COVID-19 vaccination floodgates Tuesday morning, and within two and a half hours all available appointments in Ottawa had been booked. 

Starting at 8 a.m., anyone 18 or over became eligible to reserve an spot for vaccination through Ontario's booking system. By 10:30 a.m., Ottawa Public Health said all its available slots were full.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit and those covering the Kingston and Belleville areas issued similar messages through social media.

Coun. Keith Egli, chair of the Ottawa Board of Health, said during a virtual news conference Tuesday that there were about 40,000 appointments available Tuesday morning that quickly booked up.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he was disappointed in the situation and blamed the province for opening up eligibility to a wider group than there was supply for, and ahead of schedule.

"That to us posed a significant problem, because obviously we've been counting on intervals of five or 10 years," said Watson, who pledged that he and Egli will ask provincial officials to send more vaccine doses to the nation's capital.

"It's really frustrating and unfair for people who are 18 plus to go in excited about getting their doses, and they're all gobbled up within the first hour or so," Watson said.

In an email, the city said it asked the province to add more appointments to the booking system.

"We want to assure all residents that everyone who wants to book a vaccination appointment will have an opportunity to do so as soon as supply allows," wrote Anthony Di Monte, Ottawa's general manager of emergency and protective services.

In some areas, residents who missed out can add their names to standby lists. More appointments will become available when the vaccine supply is replenished.

The vaccine rollout continues at select pharmacies, which use different booking systems.

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