Despite the expanded eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines in the province, many residents aged 18 and older in Hamilton aren’t having any luck getting an appointment at a local clinic.
A post on the city’s Twitter account acknowledged frustrated Hamiltonians who have been trying to book on Tuesday through the provincial booking portal and vaccine hotline but are being told there are no appointments available.
“There may be limited or no appointments available at some mass vaccination clinics at this time in #HamOnt,” the city wrote. “More appointments will be added to the provincial booking system over the next couple of days, please be patient.”
In an email to Global News, a spokesperson for Hamilton public health said the expanding of eligibility to all Ontarians 18 and up has created a surge in demand for available appointments.
“Over the coming days as we receive more vaccine supply, additional appointments will be made available on the booking system,” wrote Aisling Higgins, senior communications officer with the city.
“We encourage everyone to keep checking back. In time everyone will have the opportunity to book an appointment.”
During Monday COVID-19 update, medical officer of health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson said there were still appointments in May and early June, but acknowledged that expanding the eligibility doesn’t mean people are going to be able to get their shot right away.
“As people become eligible for the vaccine … the actual appointment is still going to likely take a couple of weeks or more, in terms of getting the actual vaccine,” said Dr. Richardson.
She added that pharmacies and primary-care providers will be crucial in making more vaccines available to the general public.
“We’re at that stage in the vaccination strategy where we’re looking to transition to these sustainable, accessible ways for people to reach vaccines from their most trusted providers. So that’s very good news that we’re moving that way with pharmacies and primary care as well.”
A medical clinic in Stoney Creek has been offering shots of the Moderna vaccine to those who are eligible, although it said was experiencing some technical issues with its booking page as a result of the surge in demand.
“Our booking page is very busy, we are sorry for any errors you receive,” wrote Winterberry Family Medicine on its Twitter account on Tuesday.
A spokesperson for the clinic said they’re booking three patients for every five-minute interval through their website, although no appointments were available as of Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.
The province has a list of pharmacies on its website that are offering COVID-19 vaccines to the general public: there are 22 in Hamilton, two in Ancaster, one in Binbrook, 15 in Burlington, one in Dundas, one in Mount Hope, one in Stoney Creek and two in Waterdown.