ontario vaccine portal

Ontario vaccine portal totally slammed as people 18+ rush to book COVID booster shots

Ontario's provincial vaccine booking portal is the place to hang out this morning (virtually) as booster shot appointments become available to everyone 18+ and the Omicron variant of COVID-19 sends case numbers skyrocketing.

Unfortunately, the wait times are proving absolutely ridiculous to some — not only for getting a third dose in their arms, but even just to schedule an appointment for one.

Those who'd earlier predicted a Hunger Games-like experience can consider themselves validated. 

"Due to high volumes on Ontario's COVID-19 enhanced vaccine certificate and appointment booking systems you may experience longer than normal wait times to book an appointment or download an enhanced vaccine certificate with QR code," reads a message atop the government's COVID-19 portal as of Monday morning.

After inputting their Health Card number and all other necessary information on the provincial booking website, many people have reported being dropped into a queue of tens of thousands of people.

As of 8 a.m., most were being given wait time quotes of more than an hour — if they could manage to get a spot in line at all.

Premier Doug Ford announced late last week that booster vaccine eligibility would be expanding earlier than planned on December 20 to include anyone 18 or older whose second dose was at least three months ago.

With infections rising fast and new restrictions coming into effect pretty much every couple of days at this point, Ontarians are clearly eager to protect themselves the best they can. 

But similar to previous vaccine rollouts, this one is being criticized widely as unorganized and ineffective.

There's nothing like waiting for more than an hour only to be redirected back to the exact website you just left.

Some people have clearly been successful in getting through to the booking page, however, as most slots had already been taken within just minutes of 8 a.m., when many expected the expanded eligibility requirements to take effect. 

The popular Vaccine Hunters Twitter account let its more than 260,000 followers know late Sunday night that people 18 and over could start scheduling appointments through the provincial booking system a bit earlier than expected.

Night owls were grateful, but some are also chiding the government for being inconsistent and effectively betraying people who had carefully planned to log on at 8 a.m. sharp in order to secure a booking.

"There may be limited access to COVID-19 vaccination appointments in your region at this time," reads a notice on the portal. "Individual public health units are working to add appointments to vaccination centres on an ongoing basis."

While this is true, the only appointments that have been added anywhere near Toronto at present are for January and February of 2022.

Those with plans for (scaled back) holiday gatherings aren't thrilled to learn that they'll have to wait until next year to get a COVID-19 booster, nor are those who live in regions of the province where they can't book appointments through the government's official portal at all.

Fortunately, the vaccine booking portal isn't the only option Ontarians have for securing a booster shot; third doses are also available at many pharmacies and walk-in clinics.

"We thank you for your patience, and ask that you check back regularly or check for availability through other channels such as pharmacy, primary care settings, and walk-in clinics," advises the provincial government on its vaccine booking site.

Good advice, I suppose, but not exactly what people want to hear after waiting for more than an hour to come up empty.

May the odds be ever in your favour, folks.

Lead photo by

Premier of Ontario Photography

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