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Vaccine bookings in Vancouver Coastal account for just 2.5 % of B.C. total

Last Updated Mar 9, 2021 at 6:32 am PDT

Syringes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine sit in a tray in a vaccination room at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

'Problems' booking appointments in Vancouver Coastal Health account for the low number: Ministry

While 369 appointments were booked in Vancouver Coastal, every other health authority had more than 1,000

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — As of the end of Monday, nearly 15,000 British Columbians booked a date to be immunized against COVID-19, but only 369 of those people were in the Vancouver Coastal region.

According to data from the province, the populous region that includes Vancouver, Whistler, Richmond, and the North Shore lagged far behind all others in the province when it came to how many people successfully signed up to get a shot on the first day call centres opened.

“Vancouver Coastal Health had some problems early in the day and we have worked throughout the day to address those problems and will continue working with them tomorrow to get their bookings back on track,” reads a statement from the Ministry of Health.

In contrast, the neighboring Fraser Health region saw 8,722 appointments booked. The Northern Health Authority, which has about a quarter of the population of Vancouver Coastal, registered 1,007.

Booking lines opened Monday at 7 a.m. and were immediately flooded.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said about 1.7 million phone calls were received before 10 a.m., despite only around 80,000 people being eligible for the first round of B.C.’s broader vaccination efforts.

“There are about 47,000 people 90 and above in B.C. and they’re the eligible group, and there’s another 35,000 Indigenous people over the age of 65, so those are the two eligible groups,” said Dix, noting a significant number of people within these age groups have already gotten a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I very much appreciate the enthusiasm of everybody calling in, but I would ask that people allow those who are eligible this week to book appointments to have priority.”

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The Fraser Health authority is the only one in the province where people can book an appointment online, as well as by phone.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Fraser Health was the only one with a “robust enough” online system ready to go.

“Obviously we wanted it to be ready for weeks ago, but it does take time to get those things together,” she said Monday.

Monday was the first day to register Indigenous people age 65 and up, as well as other British Columbians age 90 and up, for appointments starting Mar. 15.

The process opens up to more British Columbians each week, by five-year age increments.

People are once again reminded to only call to make an appointment when it’s their turn to do so.

With files from Liza Yuzda