Lack of Internet access could complicate things for some
By Caitlin Finlay
Most provinces and territories are counting on Canadians to use online portals to sign up to get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a CBC News survey. Nunavut is the exception and will be scheduling vaccination appointments only over the phone (all the provinces and territories will also provide the option to book by phone). The distribution of the vaccines began in December 2020 to high-risk groups such as long-term care residents and health-care workers and is now moving to other high-risk populations, often starting with older seniors.
While online registration is convenient for many, it’s not equally accessible across the population and could prevent some from signing up for a vaccination appointment. Groups such as seniors, racialized groups, and those with low incomes or disabilities are among those more likely not to own a device with which to access the Internet, not to have access to Internet service or a data plan, not to have the ability to travel to a vaccination clinic, and/or not to be comfortable with, knowledgeable about, or able to use online resources without assistance. While phone registrations are a solution for some, busy phone lines mean that those using pay-as-you-go plans could run out of credits before obtaining an appointment should they be on hold for too long.
Another potential problem is that presented by language: according to Statistics Canada data, 20% of Canadians have a mother tongue other than English or French; these people may be unable to register if the online portals or phone centres are available only in Canada’s official languages.
Potential solutions being considered include mobile vaccination clinics, vaccinations provided within the workplaces of essential workers, and community clinics to provide greater access.
The vaccine rollout in Canada has been confusing to many, with limited public information available regarding who is currently eligible to receive the vaccine and whether or not enough vaccines are available. For more information regarding the vaccine rollout, the Government of Canada website explains who will be eligible to receive the vaccine first, how these groups were chosen, and when and where to be vaccinated within your province or territory.