More than 30K vaccinations booked, thousands left frustrated by technical issues around Alberta's rollout
CALGARY -- Registration opened Wednesday morning for Alberta seniors to book vaccination appointments, but the system crashed within minutes, leaving many frustrated.
"As anticipated, we are experiencing very high volumes with the AHS COVID-19 immunization booking tool," officials wrote on social media.
"The tool remains live. If you are having trouble accessing the site, please try again shortly. Thank you for your patience."
Frustration mounted as seniors looked to get online or by phone to book vaccine appointments.
Lu McMillan, 80, says she believes the province could have staggered the age slots, so the system would face less pressure.
"Have it at 80 years of age and up, and then sequentially go down," McMillan said. "75 to 80, 70 to 75, so everyone has a better opportunity. But I should not be competing with 75-year -olds."
McMillan, a former registered nurse said the system was bound to crash, despite officials saying they were prepared on Tuesday.
"They told us yesterday they had tested the system," she said. "Well obviously not, because nobody could get in."
McMillan said vaccines are the only hope, some seniors are hanging onto.
"We’ve already been tortured for a year with masks and isolation and then everyone is just dying to get the vaccine, literally probably dying.”
But it was not all bad news. Barbara Schindler, 81, had to refresh her login screen several times, but finally was able to confirm a time slot.
“I would say we are very eager,” she said.
Schindler and her husband both plan on getting vaccinated, so they can see family during holiday months.
“See our little grandchildren, who only live a few blocks away,” said Schindler.
Calgary police also put out a warning on Twitter for people not to call 9-1-1 if your appointment can’t get booked, due to busy servers.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro said on social media he was "disappointed that the launch of the vaccine booking tool today did not go more smoothly."
"At launch, more than 150,000 users attempted to visit the site, causing a number of technical issues," he wrote.
To fix the problems, Shandro said network capacity had been added to 10 servers and additional staff has been brought in to answer Health Link calls.
As of approximately 4 p.m. Wednesday, Shandro said more than 30,000 appointments had been booked.
All Albertans age 75 and older — including those who will turn 75 this year — can book appointments by calling Health Link (811) or using and an online portal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Anyone born in 1946 or earlier is eligible as part of Phase 1B of the province's vaccination plan rollout. First Nations and Metis who are age 65 or older are also eligible. Vaccines will be provided in two doses, given five to six weeks apart.
There will be 58 sites set up to deliver vaccinations, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Tuesday.
Officials have said the first appointments were available as early as 11 a.m. on Wednesday.