In spite of being eligible to advance their second COVID-19 vaccine appointments, some Quebecers say they are finding it hard to book them.
Alison Palkhivala said she went on the government’s site, Clic Santé, in order to re-book her appointment and at first, it wasn’t possible.
“It was a lot of hoops and it was just a lot of monitoring,” she said.
She credits social media for getting her appointment after she posted about her issues and a person in her circle advised her how to get around the site.
“Whatever they say in the news conferences or put on their websites, it never seems to reflect what’s happening on the ground. And the only way we can find out what’s happening on the ground is to talk to people who’ve been there,” said Palkhivala.
“Maybe there’s no other way around it, maybe there’s no time to provide updated information, but for sure social media saved the day and was the reason I got my vaccine.”
Thierry Young, who also got an AstraZeneca first dose, said he couldn’t book his appointment on Clic Santé in spite of being eligible, so he went to a walk-in vaccination clinic hoping he’d get lucky and get his second dose.
“I don’t know why it’s not available. Perhaps they ran out of AstraZeneca for booking reservations, I’m not sure, I don’t know. But I don’t want to risk not getting the second dose of AstraZeneca since I received the first one, so I thought I’d just show up,” Young said.
Quebecers have been able to advance their second dose appointments since June 8th, depending on their age.
But there have been several issues since.
First, only people who had received the Pfizer vaccine were able to do so.
On Tuesday, health officials said people over 50 who had received AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines were now eligible to speed up the date to receive their booster shot.
Officials said the delays were due to a lack of vaccine availability but now they have received a new shipment.
“We’re talking about 500,000 more doses than previously planned from Moderna, which is giving us a lot of flexibility,” said Health Minister Christian Dubé on Tuesday.
In a statement to Global News, Quebec’s health ministry said they are aware of the issues happening throughout Quebec.
“Establishments are progressively opening appointment slots. There will be more in the next few days,” said spokesperson Robert Maranda in an email.
“We ask the population to be patient and try again in a few days, when the majority of the new vaccines will have arrived at centres throughout Quebec.”
The ministry added it’s always possible to go to a walk-in clinic.
Palkhivala says there is also information missing when it comes to hours and vaccine availability at clinics.
“We just need more specific information,” she said.
“They’re doing a great job in terms of getting the vaccine out, they just need to be able to inform people about what’s happening, they should be communicating several times a day with each of the centres to find out what vaccines they have, what they’re seeing, if they can take appointments… I think that would really streamline the situation.”
— With files from Global News’ Annabelle Olivier