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System deficiencies

System deficiencies

(Re: “Vaccine bookings,” letters, the Local, March 25)

Jennie Tschoban is impatient with complaints about BC’s vaccine roll-out and asks what the big deal is about waiting on the phone to book an appointment.

The big deal is COVID-19. With daily cases at near-record levels, a reliable booking system is crucial. Yet even with a year to prepare, the Ministry of Health left it to individual health authorities to develop a patchwork system that has been plagued by delays and misinformation.

Tschoban’s fantasy of hundreds of booking agents waiting for the phone to ring is insulting to the thousands of people for whom booking has been a protracted and stressful experience. Tschoban overlooks that the recording telling her to press one to talk to a human made no mention that on the Sunshine Coast, appointments are now available to those over 70, rather than 75 as in most of the province. One wonders how many people have been dissuaded by this misleading message.

Some callers have also reportedly been denied appointments by phone agents armed with inaccurate information. Erroneous details have even appeared on the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) website.

The problems with phone booking could have been avoided altogether had Adrian Dix mandated a province-wide online booking system. Only one of the province’s five regional health authorities (Fraser Health) has an online system in place. On the first day of the roll-out, VCH was booking approximately 30 appointments per hour, compared to over 700 per hour in Fraser. Fewer than 69,000 appointments were booked province-wide in four days. By comparison, Alberta’s online system took less than two days to schedule 100,000 appointments.

I’m glad that Tschoban can again hug her grandchildren. Unfortunately, her positive experience with phone booking blinds her to the significant deficiencies of the system.

Ian McLatchie,

Davis Bay

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