Vaccination clinic added to address Salt Spring demand

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Salt Spring residents of a certain age were frustrated when they tried to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments this week. 

Several people in the 75+ age bracket contacted the Driftwood to describe their unsuccessful attempts to get an on-island vaccination appointment through the 1-833-348-4787 number for the Island Health region. 

Marc Lalonde, 77, phoned the line on Wednesday and was advised no appointments were available on Salt Spring for two months. He was offered and accepted an April 2 appointment in Duncan for both himself and his wife Ann.

Also on Wednesday, Doug Wahlsten was told he should call back on another day since the Salt Spring appointment slots were all booked up. Wahlsten wondered how the lack of space would affect every other age group on the island in the coming weeks. 

“If it stacks up it is going to get very difficult,” he said.

Other people said they had taken the off-island appointment option — in Duncan or Sidney — despite the extra time and costs involved.

Island Health’s media relations department told the Driftwood on Friday that the problems were occurring because the Salt Spring immunization clinic “has experienced unexpected demand.”

Appointment capacity has now been expanded with an additional clinic set for ArtSpring during the week of April 12 to 18. While Island Health would not confirm exact ArtSpring clinic dates with the Driftwood, advising us to instead tell readers to check the Island Health website, other islanders have said they were given vaccination appointments at ArtSpring in the week before and after April 12-18.

“All our clinics are designed to be flexible, with the ability to scale up and scale down to meet demand,” states Island Health. “If one clinic has higher demand for bookings than another on a given day, staffing resources are allocated to meet the demand.”

Vaccination call centres are operational from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. On Good Friday and Easter Monday, April 2 and 5, hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

People are asked to not contact ArtSpring or the Public Health Unit in Ganges, where vaccinations have been taking place to date, with questions or concerns, or to try to book an appointment. The only valid number to call is 1-833-348-4787.

For more on this story, see the March 31, 2021 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

7 Comments
  1. Paula Davies says

    Hi, very glad this article gas come out as we too experienced a crazy week trying to book my Husband of 75 years of age. They kept telling us that Salt Spring was full and tried to also book us off Island.
    We held out for SSI. However his appt. Is April 7th at Art Spring but your Article mentions it opening there on the 12th. Can you look more into that as now Im concerned about his appt. Booking. Thank you, Paula Davies

    1. Gail Sjuberg says

      Will do, Paula.

      1. sherri says

        Please look into this-my husband was given an appointment for the 19th-yet the article says April 12-18. Confusing.

    2. Sue Wood says

      I have an appointment on April 7 as well. ArtSpring.

    3. Yvonne Gibbon says

      We too had to book our appt in Duncan for April 2nd because we were told there were no clinics on Salt Spring. I talked to 3 different people at the government office and they all said the same thing. We will go ahead and have our vaccine shot in Duncan because at least it will be on Friday and we’re not sure when a Salt Spring opening will be available.

      Yvonne and Dave Gibbon

  2. Joan C. says

    While booking an appointment just now I found out that the ArtSpring location for vaccinations opens April 7. So no need to worry Paula.

  3. marie stevenson says

    Unbelievable, these whiners & whingers! I phoned & got an appointment within a few minutes at ArtSpring within the week. Then, I needed to cancel because of a previous appointment. Again, I had an appointment within a few minutes on a more convenient day & time. People need to get a grip & realize how fortunate they are. If you couldn’t get an appointment & are on a respiratory machine, get back to us with all your complaints. Be grateful. Back in 1918, there were no vaccines. Think of that the next time you want to whine.

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