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People in Ontario are worried that securing a booster shot will be like the Hunger Games

Under the threat of the Omicron variant, Ontario officials just today ramped up the COVID-19 booster shot program, making third doses available to all eligible residents 18 and over starting on Monday, December 20, way earlier than planned.

While many are relieved at the swift action given how quickly case numbers are spiking and how fast the variant is taking over as the dominant strain in the province, many are preparing themselves for yet another round of vaccine appointment Hunger Games.

As people in urban centres like Toronto especially will recall, booking a first and second dose through the province's central booking portal was a frustrating mess of hours-long online wait times to match the ridiculous in-person lineups at pop-up clinics.

Every other time that the age bracket for doses has been expanded, it seems that many have been left scrambling for appointment slots, having to book many weeks in advance or then putting themselves on multiple waitlists for the hope to nab a spot (which just leads to further congestion for everyone).

Last time around, securing a vaccine was often compared to purchasing rare merchandise from exclusive drops and getting the address to an after-hours club.

The influx of people using the system has in the past also led to captcha errors and other frustrating glitches, which, along with the long and frantic hunt for one of the limited available appointments, people are already dreading.

According to those who have booked or tried to book recently online, appointments for those 50 and older — one of the demographics currently already able to get a booster — are already few and far between, with many having to book well into January.

And that's before the millions that will be flooding the booking portal starting Monday.

During his long-delayed press conference on the matter on Wednesday afternoon, Premier Doug Ford said that the province will be increasing its capacity to be able to administer 200,000-300,000 COVID immunizations per day, compared to the current rate of 40,000 or so, which should hopefully help the process.

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