The pros and cons of online booking portals for COVID-19 vaccines once mass immunization begins

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Most provinces and territories will be using online portals to sign Canadians up for COVID-19 vaccinations as they become more widely available next month, according to a survey by CBC News.

Every province that has shared their plans will use some online sign-up, as will Yukon and the Northwest Territories. The option to book by phone will be available across Canada, and Nunavut is scheduling vaccination appointments strictly by phone.

While vaccinations started back in December 2020, what’s soon changing is the pace and distribution list — from targetted high-risk groups like seniors in long-term care, to the general population, starting with the oldest first in many jurisdictions.

“That is absolutely what we need to be doing,” said epidemiologist Kirsten Fiest, the Director of Research & Innovation in Critical Care Medicine and an assistant professor at the University of Calgary. 

“I think the efficiency piece is really the most critical.”

But, while health officials and independent experts agree online appointment booking sites will be essential to managing a mass vaccination campaign, they’ve also raised problematic questions of equity in parts of the U.S.

WATCH | Some say online vaccine portals could shut out most vulnerable:

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