British Columbians are proving to be quick on the draw when it comes to booking their vaccines online.
Tuesday’s launch of a province-wide online booking system for COVID-19 vaccine shots secured 160,464 registrations between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., Health Minister Adrian Dix revealed during a briefing in Victoria.
Of those who were eligible to register, a total of 23,827 people were able to book vaccinations.
Prior to this week, the Fraser Health authority was the only one offering an online platform for bookings.
The remaining four health authorities had been booking vaccinations via call centres maintained by Telus Corp.
People born in 1950 and earlier, Indigenous people 18 and older and those considered clinically extremely vulnerable are now able to register for a vaccination by visiting www2.gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated.html.
Eligible British Columbians are also able to book in person at a Service BC location or else phone the new provincial call centre at 1-833-838-2323.
Once someone registers, they receive a confirmation code and will need to await a prompt from health officials via email, text or phone informing them they can book the appointment itself.
Last month’s initial booking rollout proved to be chaotic, with the Telus call centres receiving 1.7 million calls within three hours of phone lines opening up on March 8. Meanwhile, a total of 18,466 vaccine doses have been administered in B.C. over the last 24 hours.
That’s down significantly from the rates of vaccinations last week, when the province was administering about 32,000 doses on some days.
At a rate of 32,000 doses a day, it would take B.C. until at least November to administer both doses to all remaining 4.3 million eligible British Columbians once already-administered doses are taken into account. So far, 87,472 people have received two doses since December.
While the Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc. and AstraZeneva plc vaccines require two doses for maximum efficacy, the Johnson & Johnson requires only one shot.
Doses of the one-shot vaccine are expected to arrive by the end of the month. And the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may allow the province to resume its vaccination program for essential workers, according to Henry.
Immunization on the West Coast relies on administering the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to the general population based on descending age brackets.
The province had briefly embarked on using the AstraZeneca vaccine in March for essential workers before the program was suspended last week amid growing global concerns the vaccine was linked to a small number of cases of blood clots to have emerged in those who have received a dose.
Instead, the province reallocated those AstraZeneca doses to British Columbians between the ages of 55 and 65 — an age group not considered to be at risk — allowing them to get their jabs outside the normal age-based program.
“As we have the ability, we will jumpstart our worker program once again, so please be patient. We know that there's always challenges that we have with our immunization program, and the immunizations arriving and we will be getting back to the worker program as soon as we possibly can,” Henry said.