Sudbury's COVID-19 vaccination process 'confusing and frustrating,' some say
SUDBURY -- As the COVID-19 vaccination rollout continues in Sudbury, the current focus is on residents who are 80 and older. While many have already received their COVID-19 vaccine, others are waiting to receive a call confirming their appointment and a local seniors advocate told CTV News the signup process is anything but easy.
"I've heard so many stories of seniors staying home and afraid to go out of the house in case they miss the phone call. They don't know how to check email," Brenda Coulson said. "They're just confused, frustrated and it's sad."
Since Monday, most people in Ontario who are 80 and older can register for the vaccine through the province's online system or by calling the health unit directly.
Coulson wanted to register her aunt via the province's phone number but said she was on the phone for seven hours just to find out the Sudbury region isn't booking through the province.
"I was on hold two different times, close to two hours each time and then I got cut off," she said.
"My last attempt was 59 minutes, finally got a wonderful young man from the call centre and he asked for the postal code and put in the postal code and said they weren't booking for the Sudbury District," Coulson said.
However, Public Health Sudbury & Districts said residents registering for a vaccine appointment can only do so through the local health unit for now.
"Sometimes people hear things on the Toronto news media and think it applies to Sudbury, but right now in Sudbury, we have our own booking system and our own call centre," said Cynthia Peacock-Rocca, a manager with the Sudbury health unit.
"That's what we're using right now and we haven't made any official announcements that we are switching over."
Once registered for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, people are then placed in a "lottery."
From there, those 80 and older and in Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout will be randomly selected by the health unit.
But the lottery system isn't sitting well with some.
"How and who makes the decision on why Sudbury is in a lottery?" said Valerie Zuliani, who's been trying to register friends and family.
"How long is this going to last, lottery wise? So that our relatives and elderly can figure out, if I didn't get in this week, maybe I'll get in the following week?"
Health officials said they don't know how long this system will be in place.
"What we do know is that supply and demand aren't equal. So as supply increases maybe we can offer a first-come-first-served basis," Peacock-Rocco said.
Peacock-Rocca said the hope is that most people who qualify to receive a vaccine in Phase 1 will receive their shot by end of March.