Interior Health residents trying to book COVID-19 vaccines were met with busy lines on day one of bookings. (Dan Ferguson - Black Press Media)

Interior Health residents trying to book COVID-19 vaccines were met with busy lines on day one of bookings. (Dan Ferguson - Black Press Media)

Interior Health apologizes for people getting a busy signal on first day of vaccine appointments

People report being left on hold for hours or being cut off after being on hold

While Interior Health did manage to book 2,456 appointments on the first day phone lines were opened, more people than not found themselves on hold for hours or getting a busy signal.

Interior Health took to Facebook to apologize for phone lines carrying a busy signal. The problem of seniors not being able to get through the phone lines was across B.C., as 1.4 million calls came in the first 90 minutes.

That is far more people than are eligible for a vaccine, showing that some are trying to jump the queue.

“We hear your concerns about troubles with phone lines today and we thank you for your patience. Only seniors 90+ and Aboriginal Peoples 65+ are eligible at this time,” said Interior Health.

“No other age groups should be calling. Everyone who is eligible to book a vaccination appointment will be able to book one.

Nobody will miss their chance. If it’s not your turn yet, please wait until you’re eligible to call in. This allows us to vaccinate the most vulnerable first.

There’s no rush – you can call anytime this week for seniors who are 90+ and Aboriginal Peoples 65+. There are many appointments available. More age groups will become eligible over the coming weeks and month.”

READ MORE: About 15,000 COVID-19 shots booked on Day 1 in B.C., more than half in Fraser Health

One person responded to Interior Health saying they spent four hours on hold.

“After trying constantly from 7 a.m., I got through just before 4 p.m. Now I have been on hold for over an hour. Guessing I will likely time out when they close at 7 p.m. If a business was run like this, it would go bankrupt.”

Another person commented that Alberta is already onto second doses for this age group. What is taking B.C. so long, she asked.

Call centres are experiencing a large influx of calls. More than 1.4 million calls in the first 90 minutes, which is far more than the number of seniors who are eligible to book their vaccine appointment.

Despite the issues, Health Minister Adrian Dix tweeted that 2,456 immunization appointments were booked in Interior Health by the end of the day.

B.C government is asking people to follow these rules:

Please help the most at-risk get through to book their appointment by:

• Don’t have more than one person calling on behalf of an eligible senior.

• Remember you can call later in the week and you won’t miss your turn. All 5 call centres are open 7am to 7pm PST/PDT, 7 days a week and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on holidays.

• If you get a busy tone or “call cannot be completed as dialled” message, please call back a few hours later or the next day.

• Wait until it’s your turn to book — if you are not eligible, you won’t be able to book an appointment.

READ MORE: Interior Health notes 80 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

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