Online COVID-19 vaccine booking is set to launch in British Columbia on Tuesday as the province enters Phase 3 of its immunization rollout ahead of schedule.
The news comes as case numbers spike in B.C. with a record-high daily total on Saturday of 1,072 new infections and an outbreak on the Vancouver Canucks hockey team.
A provincewide online registration system was originally supposed to open April 12, but Premier John Horgan says in a news release that the early launch marks a "major milestone" in B.C.'s fight against COVID-19.
BC is moving to Phase 3 of our COVID-19 Immunization Plan. Starting April 6, all eligible adults in BC will be able to follow an easy, three-step process to register and book their vaccine appointments online, when it’s their turn.— BC Government News (@BCGovNews) April 5, 2021
Learn more: https://t.co/RDr3YpsLzS #CovidBC
Residents may register online when it is their turn and receive a confirmation code, before waiting for an email, text or call telling them they are eligible and booking their vaccine appointment.
When the Get Vaccinated system opens on Tuesday, people born in 1950 or earlier, Indigenous people 18 and older and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be eligible.
The province says people may also book their appointments by telephone through a provincial call centre or in person at the nearest Service BC location.
"We encourage everyone in B.C. to get their vaccine at their first opportunity, when it is their turn," said Health Minister Adrian Dix in the news release.
People aged 55 to 65 on the Lower Mainland are still eligible to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at a participating pharmacy near them, and the province said it will announce details about expanding the program to other regions in the days ahead.
The province faced criticism last month for not having an online registration system ready to go when Phase 2 of the age-based vaccination program began, as call centres in each health authority were initially overwhelmed.
Fraser Health was the only authority that had an online booking platform at the time.
Dr. Penny Ballem, who's leading of the immunization program, said B.C. has worked "diligently and tirelessly" to get the provincewide online registration and single phone-number system ready.
"We're ready to move onto the next phase of the largest vaccination program in B.C. history," she said.
To date, the province said nearly 770,000 eligible B.C. residents – or one in six – have received their first dose of vaccine, and more than 87,000 have received their second dose.
If B.C.'s vaccine supply is delivered as scheduled, the province said everyone who is eligible for the vaccine will receive their first dose by the end of June.
The online system is available at gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated and the toll-free provincial call centre number is 1-833-838-2323.