Local residents have been experiencing error messages and unsuccessful attempts to book vaccine appointments since the province's online booking system launched today.
According to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, the province hasn't included all of the region's clinic locations or appointments in its booking system yet. As a result, people who are booking appointments are being told there are none close to home.
The health unit stated the province is troubleshooting this issue with a resolution expected by the end of the day. The health unit is recommending residents try again later to book an appointment.
Some residents are getting an error message stating their "form has been tampered with."
According to the health unit, the province is also working to resolve this technical issue.
According to a post by the health unit on its social media channels, phone line staff and the health unit's IT department are unable to assist with complaints about the province's booking system.
"We understand your frustration and would appreciate your patience as the province works to resolve issues with the COVID-19 booking system," states the health unit's Facebook post.
Grey Bruce Health Unit has noted similar issues with not all of their vaccine clinics being included in the province's booking system yet. They too advise people wait for the issue to be resolved and try again later. Health unit staff are not able to book vaccine appointments and cannot fix any of the technical issues in the province's booking system.
Some of those who have tried to book vaccine appointments via the provincial system are being told to call their health unit, however, both Simcoe Muskoka and Grey Bruce Health Unit have announced they are not able to book appointments.
Currently, the provincial booking system is the only way to book a vaccine appointment for residents in Grey Bruce and Simcoe Muskoka. The appointments, once added, are available for individuals aged 80 years or older, Indigenous adults (over 16) and their household members, and high-priority health care workers.
According to Premier Doug Ford, more than 45,000 people have booked an appointment through the province's booking system today and those running the Ontario phone lines are helping "375 people per minute." Ford was speaking from a mass immunization clinic in the Northumberland region this afternoon.
When confronted with reports of the reported technical difficulties, Ford said he "respectfully disagrees" the portal has been unsuccessful.
"We have some of the largest companies backing this up from the IBMs to the Amazons, they've tested this," said Ford, indicating it's easy to do but some people are putting information in incorrectly.
Ford promised he would be calling his "IT guys" as soon as he wrapped up at the Northumberland announcement, which began at 1 p.m.
"I would bet as they're listening to this, they're jumping on this," said Ford. "We'll iron it out immediately, I can promise you that."
He suggested anyone having trouble with the web booking system should call the 1-888-999-6488 number. He said there are more than 2,000 operators taking calls.
For information about Ontario’s vaccine booking system, see Ontario.ca, or call the Provincial Vaccine Information Line: 1-888-999-6488, Monday to Sunday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.