Coronavirus: Ontario government launching web portal for COVID-19 vaccinations

WATCH ABOVE: Criticized for being too slow, Ontario’s vaccine rollout plan now includes an online tool, but it’s one that’s raising concerns about accessibility. Shallima Maharaj explains.

As the second phase of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout program draws nearer, the provincial government is preparing to launch a web portal for bookings.

As of Tuesday afternoon, officials reported just under 400,000 doses of vaccines had been administered.

In a statement, an Ontario Ministry of Health spokesperson confirmed to Global News the province, along with its partners, developed an IT portal “for eventual mass vaccination appointments.”

They said scheduling software was successfully launched in “pilot mode” in January.

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“Work is underway to incorporate registration and eligibility for the end of February or early March and it will be available in English and French,” the statement said.

Late in January, California partnered up with Skedulo, Accenture and Salesforce to create its own booking portal. All three companies were listed by the Ontario government as collaborators with them.

While palliative care physician and health justice activist Dr. Naheed Dosani acknowledged the value of a web-based portal for booking appointments, he urged officials not to lose sight of those who cannot easily access this type of option.

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“We have to think of people who have cognitive issues, seniors, people who don’t have access to smartphones, people who don’t have access to computers or don’t know how to use a computer to efficiently book a vaccination,” Dosani said.

He said he fears a rash of inequities and points to alternative measures including mobile clinics that go to the hardest-hit communities, drive-thru clinics and expanding language options beyond French and English.

“Even providing funding for phones and computers, and even workers to go out and work with these populations to help them navigate booking online,” Dosani said.

The Ministry of Health spokesperson said mobile clinics are being planned by the Public Health Units.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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