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COVID-19 vaccine call centres flooded with 1.7 million calls on first day

Health minister pleads with British Columbians not to phone vaccine call centres unless eligible
health-minister-adrian-dix
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix.

B.C.’s health minister is pleading with British Columbians not to ring up COVID-19 vaccine call centres unless they’re eligible to book an appointment for a shot.

Adrian Dix revealed Monday (March 8) call centres meant for booking vaccine shots have been flooded with 1.7 million calls since launching at 7 a.m.

Fewer than 100,000 British Columbians are currently eligible to book — 47,000 people 90 years old or above, and 35,000 Indigenous people 65 years or older.

“If you're not in those categories, please don't call us today so that we can continue to proceed through those appointments. We've got five days to do it, there's going to be lots of time,” Dix said during a media briefing.

“Remember, this is not first come first serve, that there's going to be appointments available all week.”

Initial bookings are to be done through dedicated call centres for the province’s five local authorities and family members are able to book on behalf of seniors who may not feel comfortable scheduling their vaccinations on their own.

Fraser Health is the only health authority providing online bookings.

Booking eligibility will expand to those 85 years and older by March 15, and 80 years and older by March 22.

Vaccinations for elderly British Columbians begin March 29 as the province continues to prioritize vulnerable groups and frontline health-care workers for vaccinations over the next three weeks.

Dix said an online booking platform will be ready to launch April 12 as the province begins vaccinating the broader population with more doses expected to be pouring in from manufacturers.

Details on the province’s online platform remain sparse and provincial officials said one week ago more information would be made available in the coming weeks.

The call centre will ask British Columbians for their legal name, date of birth, postal code, personal health number and current contact info.

Call centre workers will not be asking for financial info, such as credit card details.

Instructions for call centre bookings and local health authority call centre numbers are available at gov.bc.ca/bcseniorsfirst.

torton@biv.com

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