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Ontarians say 2nd-dose vaccine bookings a 'mess' as they wait in hours long virtual lines

Last Updated Jun 14, 2021 at 10:03 pm EDT

As Ontario opened second-dose COVID-19 vaccination bookings Monday, many faced difficulties finding appointments and social media was flooded with complaints about the process being a “mess” and comparable to the Hunger Games.

Many faced hours long waits in a virtual queue only to be told no appointments were available in their area. Others complained they simply could not reschedule their second dose for an earlier date.

Along with long waits, many said appointments close to where they live were nearly impossible to find.  Some were even booted out of the system and had to start again at the back of the queue.

As of Monday, those who got their first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine became eligible to book their second shot after eight weeks, instead of the earlier minimum wait time of 12 weeks.

In addition, people who live in regions where the Delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading and who received their first shot on or before May 9 could make an appointment for their second dose.

However meeting eligibility criteria seemingly did not go hand in hand with appointment availability.

Health Minister Christine Elliott acknowledged the difficulties people were having, but encouraged Ontarians to keep trying to book, saying more appointments should open up later in the day.

The province’s booking portal experienced similar issues when it first launched in March and at the time, users were asked to call the province’s phone line to book instead.

Despite the issues, the Ministry of Health said nearly 100,000 vaccine appointments were successfully booked as of 12 p.m. through the provincial booking system.

“We know that appointments in some Public Health Units (PHUs) have booked up quickly and we continue to work with the PHUs to bring more appointments online,” the ministry said in a statement to CityNews. “We ask everyone to be patient as more appointments are brought online by PHUs.”

Further, additional vaccine doses will be provided to PHUs in Delta variant hotspots once they exhaust their local inventory.

The ministry added that appointments are also still available through pharmacies and pop-up clinics.