Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

B.C.’s health ministry opened its call centre Monday for signing up COVID-19 vaccination appointments for seniors aged 90 and up, and the flood of calls that was warned about hit immediately.

Health Minister Adrian Dix confirmed Monday morning that 1.7 million calls were received in the first three hours, many times the number of people who are eligible this week.

Dix said there are 47,000 people aged 90 and over in B.C., and 35,000 Indigenous people aged 65 and up. Many have already received vaccine as residents of assisted living or long-term care. Dix said the system is not first-come, first-served and clearly many people are calling in before they are eligible or multiple times on behalf of elderly people who are eligible.

“There are lots of appointments,” Dix said March 8. “We have five days to book appointments for people 90 and up, and Indigenous people 65 and over. If you’re not in those categories, please don’t call us today.”

Fraser Health, B.C.’s largest health authority, has a website that is taking appointments for 90-plus seniors. Other health regions are taking appointments by phone, and will move to online appointment booking as the mass vaccination program moves to 80-plus, 70-plus and the rest of the adult population in the coming months, Dix said.

RELATED: Interior Health opens vaccination phones for 90+ seniors

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccines for B.C. seniors: Here’s how to sign up


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