After a two-hour frenzy of phone calls and online panic to snag one of 5,000 vaccination appointments on Tuesday morning, Middlesex-London medical officer of health Chris Mackie tweeted about the “tremendous response from the 80+ crowd.”
I’m not so sure “tremendous’ is the right word. Making the oldest members of our community have to elbow each other aside for a vaccination like they’re buying concert tickets for the final reunion concert of The Rolling Stones doesn’t seem tremendous at all.
By the way, if The Rolling Stones lived in Middlesex-London, they would be jamming the computer and phone lines with their contemporaries for vaccine appointments, too. No Satisfaction or Emotional Rescue, even for the old and famous.
On Wednesday, about 400 more appointments opened up. They were gone in 27 minutes.
We shouldn’t have to run the COVID-19 vaccination sign-up like TicketMaster and yet, one year into the pandemic, with the finish line looming somewhere a few months away, we are fighting to get enough vaccine supply and get needles in arms.
The health unit was inundated with calls Wednesday from people over 80 frustrated they couldn’t get through the phone lines. The COVID booking line had about 200,000 calls Tuesday. The website, it must be said, worked very well and gobbled up most of the appointment slots.
So we’re going to try again Thursday morning, but this time the phone will be your friend. Mackie said 6,900 spots will open up for those over 80 starting at 8 a.m. and they are going to keep a portion reserved strictly for phone calls.
“The goal tomorrow is persistence, not speed,” Mackie said Wednesday afternoon, and directed that those folks who want to book over the phone to keep calling beyond the first few minutes of the morning. There are appointments available.
There are still lots of people 80 and over yet to book an appointment.
“I think people are confused that if they miss the chance to sign up on one day, they believe they will get passed over. That’s not the case. We’re going to keep vaccinating the eligible groups until we’re done, everyone who wants a vaccine,” Mackie said.
All this goes to show how anxious and impatient we’ve become after a year of sacrifices. As simple as it seems to line people up for a jab in the arm, it’s just not.
We need a supply of vaccines to flow like the Thames River in springtime. It’s still a trickle. It’s getting better, but it’s still not enough. Once it gets here, we need vaccinators, supplies and an organized spacious area to do them.
We have all of that in Middlesex-London and could ramp up to 10,000 shots a day once this gets rolling.
There are three great vaccines approved, two already in service, AstraZeneca arriving in Canada this week and more on the way. Priority 1 for Health Canada should be to OK the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine already approved in the U.S.
But it’s easy to lose faith. There are about 14 million people in Ontario and we still haven’t ramped up to 30,000 doses a day provincewide. Only 266,710 Ontarians have received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines
This is still the warm-up act. Let’s hope the big show, once it starts, was worth the wait and the aggravation. I want it to be tremendous.