February 26, 2021
As we end the week, I want to publicly acknowledge the frustration and worry that was experienced by some Albertans on February 24th with the launch of the Community 75+ public COVID-19 immunization campaign.
We have heard from seniors and their family members that the stress of trying to book appointments this week added to what is already an extremely trying time.
I want to publicly and personally apologize to anyone who experienced frustration, anger, or worry over what should be a hopeful time in the pandemic response.
We made an error in judgement in how we stress tested our online booking system. We underestimated the number of Albertans 75 years and over who would call 811 and go online to book at launch time. We had planned for tens of thousands at a time, and demand far exceeded that, leading to technical issues that took several hours to resolve. The technical issues have been fixed, a queuing waiting room is in place, and the system is stable. We also acknowledge the public confidence in our ability to deliver immunizations has been shaken.
We have also seen lineups at several of our immunization clinics. No one wants to line up outside in the Alberta winter, and no one should. Everyone who has an appointment is being vaccinated, and we have put in place better line management and process at the sites to encourage people to wait in their vehicles until their time slot. Some of the clinics are behind schedule because we are taking time with each person, and we may need to extend the 10-minute allotment for each immunization. We are looking at that, and learning how to be efficient, caring, and respectful of all Albertans.
I want to thank Albertans for signing up to be immunized. In just two days, more than 120,000 Albertans signed up to get the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s more than half the population in this age group. We have already immunized upwards of 12,000 of these seniors aged 75 and over, in two days. These seniors are
on their way to being protected against the virus.
As a society, we are one step closer to getting back to some semblance of normal life. The more people immunized, the less community transmission we will see. There have been problems, and as an organization, we feel that deeply. We know we can be better. The link here provides additional steps taken to address the technical issues with the online booking tool, and some additional strategies implemented at our immunization sites.
I thank you for your patience as we move forward with the next phases of immunization. We are working to make sure we are better prepared, and that we serve Albertans with care, respect and integrity. We have been here with you throughout the pandemic response, and we will continue to be here for all Albertans.
Dr. Verna Yiu
President and CEO
Alberta Health Services