A senior citizen receives a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic in a hockey arena in Montreal, on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. More than half of the residents of First Nations communities in British Columbia have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, but most Indigenous people who live outside of these areas are still waiting. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

A senior citizen receives a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic in a hockey arena in Montreal, on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. More than half of the residents of First Nations communities in British Columbia have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, but most Indigenous people who live outside of these areas are still waiting. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Painful Truth: Governments, do not mess up our vaccinations

We’re almost out of this, you better not fail now

Dear governments of Canada and British Columbia,

Do not screw this up.

This could have been the mantra for the entire last year, the whole lost year from January of 2020, when rumblings about this new virus spreading in China first sprang up.

Don’t screw up the lockdowns, don’t screw up the financial relief, don’t screw up when acquiring masks, or ordering untested vaccines, or re-opening schools, or during the second lockdowns. Don’t screw up, and let more of our loved ones get sick and risk death.

Most of those still apply, plus we’re looking askance at everyone who protests wearing a mask, hosts a trivia night, goes to an illegal club. (Don’t screw up enforcement, either!)

But all of those came with vast unknowns. We didn’t know early on how effective masks would be. We didn’t know how lethal the virus was. Every action came with a bit of leeway – we really are were in this together, and the thing we were in was a perpetual state of confusion.

But now we’re in the home stretch. Everyone knows what needs to happen now. Vaccines into arms, that’s it, as fast and efficiently as possible.

So I repeat – leaders, do not screw this up.

I am worried, you see, that you will manage to trip over your shoelaces while rounding third.

Our first indication of this was when it turned out that Telus had been assigned the job of taking reservations for the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.

Who could have predicted that this was a bad idea? Only anyone in the province who has ever had to phone Telus about anything.

Four of the five health authorities didn’t have any way to sign up online. Phones were jammed, of course, as everyone calling in for themselves, their dad, their mom, their grandparent, called back over and over and over again.

Again – entirely predictable. We’ve seen this happen in other provinces and countries.

Perhaps, as we enter the most vital, and hopefully final, phase of the pandemic, the government should road-test its ideas. Go and find the nearest three people wandering by on the street outside. Explain the next phase. If they give you a funny look or start laughing, reconsider the plan.

A couple of tips:

1) If your call centre has a few people who are just sort of sitting around and whose phones aren’t ringing off the hook constantly, that is a good sign! That is how many people you need – more than enough!

2) Same thing at vaccination sites – do the math, figure out how many nurses/pharmacists/dentists you need to give shots if everything goes as planned. Then hire five or six more, because it won’t.

3) Trust us. Stop making everything a big secret until it’s “unveiled.” We’re stressed out enough, and frankly, we might have some good feedback so you can fix things in advance. Slow reveals and spoiler warnings are for Marvel movies, not mass inoculation plans.

So to conclude: you are not allowed to screw this up. Got it?

Have a story tip? Email: matthew.claxton@langleyadvancetimes.com

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