Just seven minutes before online booking was set to open at 8 a.m. Monday, AHS tweeted that its booking tool launch was being delayed.
“The AHS website is experiencing intermittent issues,” AHS tweeted. “We are working to resolve the issued quickly.”
In a statement to Global News, AHS said it took the booking took offline for about two hours to deal with some “network issues.”
“The issue was with our network, not with the tool itself,” AHS said.
As of 1 p.m., AHS said it had completed about 8,000 bookings.
Phase 2A targets Albertans born between 1947 and 1956 and First Nations, Inuit and Métis born in 1971 or earlier.
Only Albertans born in 1947 or earlier — or First Nations, Métis and Inuit people born in 1962 or earlier – were able to book their appointments through AHS on Monday.
Appointments are accessible online through Alberta Health Services’ booking tool on the AHS.ca website or by calling 811.
AHS said it will open up more appointments according to birth year as the week progresses. Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Monday that the next birth year will be open to book on Tuesday at 10 a.m. rather than 8 a.m., to allow some time for improvements to be made to the online booking tool.
Participating pharmacies, meanwhile, are now taking appointments for all Phase 2A age groups starting Monday.
Some Albertans in the 65-plus age group, however, were concerned to learn that when they called pharmacies on Monday morning to book appointments, that some pharmacies had already begun taking appointments last week.
“I am extremely bothered that pharmacies allowed people to book vaccinations before their designated time,” Carolyn Nystrom told Global News.
“Opening the appointments to other people took away those appointments from the people that were already in line and waiting their turn.”
UntitledHinshaw addresses concerns over pre-booking for COVID-19 vaccine in Alberta
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health addressed the concerns during her daily COVID-19 update Monday afternoon. Hinshaw said while some pharmacies did book ahead of the provincial timeline, she stressed that all Albertans who want a vaccine will receive one.
“Pharmacies did need to use up the vaccines they had in their stocks so that that wouldn’t expire and they were able to then offer vaccine to seniors in Phase 2A a little earlier if they didn’t have enough people from Phase 1B taking up those vaccines,” Hinshaw said.
“I can understand Albertans feeling that it’s not fair, that some individuals who booked before today would have gotten an appointment earlier and I recognize that that’s frustrating.
“I want to assure Albertans that we will have enough vaccine to provide immunization to all those Albertans who are in Phase 2A within the next three weeks.”
Hinshaw was also made aware of some seniors who said they weren’t able to book their first dose appointment at a pharmacy until May.
“Whether someone has booked an appointment in May, it will be critical for them to continue to keep a close watch on the Alberta Health Services website as new birth year cohorts are opened, and we will also be providing additional vaccines to pharmacies as new shipments come in,” she said.
“I would ask people to be patient. I know it’s difficult, I know there are many who eagerly want vaccine and want to get it as soon as possible. And again, I would encourage those individuals to be checking the Alberta Health Services website as their birth year comes up to be able to book vaccine and to watch for additional pharmacies, additional opportunities as we get more vaccine in the province, and more pharmacies are able to offer those appointments.”
A list of participating pharmacies is available on the Alberta Blue Cross website.
Hinshaw also announced additional details Monday for Phase 2B and 2C of the vaccine rollout, which is expected to begin in April.
Alberta identifies health conditions eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in Phase 2B
Hinshaw said the province has released a list of chronic conditions that would make Albertans aged 16 to 64 eligible for a vaccine in Phase 2B. Those conditions can be viewed on the government’s website.
As of March 14, the province said 368,124 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in Alberta with 91,593 people fully vaccinated with two doses.
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