Ontarians report problems with vax booking site as 50+ become eligible for boosters

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO – Ontario’s portal for booking COVID-19 vaccines appeared to crash Monday morning as residents 50 and older who received their second shot at least six months ago became eligible for booster doses.

The provincial vaccine booking platform opened for appointments at 8 a.m., but shortly afterwards showed a message to try again later.

Social media users reported a number of problems on Twitter and expressed frustration with the province’s online booking system.

“I waited in line for 30 minutes to get on and after entering in my info, I get a ‘Service unavailable’ message,” one person wrote.

“Giving up after an hour of trying, and crashes, and re-entering info; I have to do some actual work today. Will try later this week, or after the holidays,” another said.

Some, however, reported successfully booking a third dose after several attempts or waiting more than 30 minutes.

The government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

People can also book shots by phone, through local public health units using their own booking systems and at some pharmacies and primary care clinics.

Booster eligibility is set to open up to all adults on Jan. 4 but the province’s top doctor has said the schedule could move faster if capacity allows.

The expanded eligibility comes as Ontario’s panel of expert advisers on COVID-19 said that the Omicron variant – first detected in the province in late November – now accounts for 21 per cent of Ontario’s COVID-19 cases.

Cases of Omicron are doubling every three days, the group said.

“The current surge is mostly Delta, but it’s hitting us just as we need to be ramping up for Omicron – and it’s a sign of how vulnerable an un/undervaccinated province is,” the panel said in a tweet.

Monday also marks the deadline for long-term care workers in the province to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Staff, students and volunteers can’t enter long-term care homes without proof of both doses.