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Calls for consolidated COVID-19 vaccine bookings in Ontario

Click to play video: 'Experts call for Ontario to consolidate COVID-19 vaccine bookings' Experts call for Ontario to consolidate COVID-19 vaccine bookings
WATCH ABOVE: Vaccine distribution in Ontario hasn’t had the smoothest rollout. There have been long lineups at clinics and issues with the online booking system. The official opposition calls it a “debacle” that should have been avoided. Miranda Anthistle has the latest. – Apr 26, 2021

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has hit a number of roadblocks, from supply issues, to confusion over the online booking system. In some cases, this has led to massive lineups outside vaccine clinics, which the NDP on Monday called “shameful.”

“Those lineups? Terrifying,” said opposition leader Andrea Horwath.

“To watch people line up literally overnight to try to get a spot in the morning, it shouldn’t be happening in Ontario.”

Horwath went on to say Premier Ford dropped the ball by not providing a cohesive and coherent vaccine plan.

“It’s quite a disgrace that this province, this government, couldn’t put together a vaccine plan that makes sense to people and that people could easily access,” she said.

Read more: COVID-19: Vaccine Hunters Canada volunteers working to eliminate booking appointment barriers

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There have been complaints over the booking system not being easy to navigate. In Toronto, only the City-operated vaccine clinics are consolidated.

“Many of our partner-operated clinics do not use the provincial booking system for their respective clinics. Likewise, pharmacies also do not use the provincial booking system,” said fire chief Matthew Pegg, who is the city’s COVID-19 incident commander.

Pegg said the following sites should be monitored for up-to-date and accurate information: visit www.Toronto.ca/COVID19 for City-operated clinics, or click www.vaccineTO.ca, for hospital and Ontario Health Team-operated clinics.

Read more: Ontario considering sending half its COVID-19 vaccines to hot spot areas, health minister says

Quynh Pham is a scientist at the University Health Network (UHN). She said the current system Ontario is using is an extremely confusing process.

“There are so many ways of registering incorrectly,” she said.

Pham, who specializes in digital health and cultural equity, suggested Ontario should be following the lead of provinces like Nova Scotia to make it easier for people to register for a vaccine appointment.

“Consolidating that process into one place certainly helps with the mad hunt for finding the right booking system at any given time,” she said.

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Some health-care experts believe the vaccine process as a whole is generating some skepticism.

This week, Canada is expected to receive nearly two million doses to add to its vaccine supply, including the Johnson & Johnson shot.

U.S. health regulators recently paused the use of it for 10 days to investigate its link to extremely rare, but potentially deadly blood clots. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted the recommended pause on Friday following a thorough safety review.

Guidance from many in the Canadian medical community remains that people should take the first vaccine they are eligible for.

“Whether it’s J&J, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna — there’s one key metric people need to know about,” said emergency physician at UHN, Dr. David Carr.

“When you get these vaccines, they reduce your likelihood of death, severe disease, and hospitalizations, and all of them do it.”

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Carr added that it can be a complicated choice for people, and while getting the first vaccine they can is important, so, too, is asking their primary care provider for any answers they have to questions surrounding it.

This is also echoed by Dr. Omar Khan, who is a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Toronto.

“Your health-care provider has your complete medical history and if they think you’re susceptible to something in the vaccine ingredients, they’ll guide you to a better choice,” said Khan, who went on to say this can also help to address vaccine hesitancy.

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