Public frustrated over APH vaccination phone lines

Algoma Public Health

The alleged failure the phone lines at Algoma Public Health had many fuming in the community Tuesday.

“As a senior citizen I shouldn’t have to dial the phone over and over just to get an appointment,” vented Kathy in a conversation with SaultOnline. “I dialed 306 times in a row and my husband dialed 85 times in 4 hours.”

Kathy asked us to use only her first name, she stated that she started calling at 9:59 a.m. and the few times it did ring, it went to a message saying the person wasn’t available to answer and please call back.

Antoni sent an e-mail to our newsroom with his experience the same day.

“Last Tuesday, 13 April, I spent the better part of the morning unsuccessfully trying to dial in an appointment.  I also went on the internet concurrently to try and book an appointment,” said Antoni. “Initially I got a webpage that informed me I was in a virtual queue with about an estimated 40 minute wait time.  Eventually that got down to 7 minutes at which point the website crashed.  Later that afternoon I got on again only to find that all appointments for April and up to and including 08 May were fully booked.”

APH had posted a notice on their website warning about the high call volume.

Our team has fielded multiple other complaints in regards to the phone and online booking system set up by APH.

If you have had issues booking your appointment, please feel free to reach out to us with your experience.

Stay with SaultOnline as we continue to keep the community advised on the vaccination effort in our community.


  1. The whole booking system is flawed forcing people to participate in an online lottery for vaccines. This is stressful and more often than not ends up being a waste of time. A better way of booking would be like some other provinces do. In BC if you want a vaccine you register online at your liesure and then when it’s your turn they contact you to make an appointment. No fuss no muss.

  2. It took me 2 hrs and 10 mins to book appointment for 70+. I had 3 phones and online going the whole time. I finally got through on the phone but was on hold for an additional 25 minutes. The APH website was terrible it had not added 70+ on their eligible list so even though I was able to start booking it would not allow me to book that age group!! That is not a good experience and something must be done to rectify this situation.

  3. We went online and hit the phone at the dot of 10 am April 13 trying to book appointments with APH. First got “The service is unavailable” online, then at 10:06 were told estimated wait time was 23 minutes. On the phone there was nothing but a busy signal redial after redial for 80 minutes. Got through the first step online at 10:44, then could not find an open appointment time. We tried first as essential caregivers, then again as 70+. Nothing. Gave up at 11:20 am. I agree that APH should stop trying to pretend it can do the job. Let the province take over.

  4. They should have done it in one year increments for calling in. Like aged 70 from 10-12,,,69 from 12-2… or whatever. Even if it would have taken 3 days, at least it would be done right. Why are people that are i their 70s not getting appts but people that are 60 do?

  5. Maybe they should have adjusted the timing. People aged 70 for a certain period, then aged 69, etc. They could have even broken it down by month if necessary.
    And why do people aged 60 have appointments and people over 70 do not?

    It was easier to get Stones tickets!

  6. Greetings, my name is Edward and I a 72 years old, as other senior people for the last two(2) times calling in for an appointment I could not get through.
    what really upsets me they have told us the seniors should come first, Yet I know of people in their 40s and early 50s getting the vaccine, Please tell me how this is possible with a so called well run health unit in Sault Ste Marie, I also called the health unit by Sault College , left my name and phone number to ask what is going on and to-date no return call, that tells me everything I need to know about their system if sucks.

  7. We share the same issues as others who couldn’t get through and same issues as your story on this from Kathy. We both tried calling non stop and in addition tried on line starting at 10:00 a.m. no luck either way and eventually checked with APH with our issues and informed the site crashed and everything full now and just not getting enough vaccines to go around. Have to wait until the next booking announcement and will try again.

  8. I had no issues booking for 6 different people online. I started at 10 and was done by 10:15.
    Just treat it like concert tickets or Greyhound playoff tickets.

    I knew phones would be nuts so I didn’t even try.

    • If you had no issues booking 6 appointments ,obviously your 6 friends
      Or relatives did have issues.Or did you tell them it was like a hockey game.
      You were lucky or something.Not all of us are so computer savvy

  9. It has been a nightmare trying to get a covid vaccine in Sault Ste. Marie. I have spent countless hours and had much anxiety over it. First time the page didn’t refresh until 1:30 instead of 1:00. Then April 13th many many things went wrong. APH is causing the people of Sault Ste. Marie to engage in a competition for the limited amount of vaccine. I e-mailed the Board of Directors about it several times. No answer. The only comment made is on facebook telling us don’t panic there will be more appt available soon. This only adds to the stress level. As we are all pretty sure we won’t get appointments then either. More accountability regarding who is getting the appointments and how many appointments are allowed each day is needed. They don’t seem to be getting our message. They keep blaming the shortage of vaccines. The real problem is the booking system. They blame it on high volume. However, the booking system should be able to handle the volume they know is going to occur. I could have booked an appointment anywhere else in Ontario much easier on the Provincial site. It is easier to use, and does it by postal codes. A couple of clicks and you are on your way.

  10. Thank you for this, Dan. It is apparent that the booking system being used by APH is not equitable. The number of appointments at these day clinics should be public knowledge as well. Why isn’t APH using the provincial booking system which is being used elsewhere, since theirs can’t manage the surge created by the limited intake process that APH has chosen. The booking system used need not be dictated by available doses – look at how the pharmacies are managing, as an example of this. Requiring folks to compete with one another for a vaccine (in narrow blocks of time) during a pandemic is not good for anyone. Better information and communication from APH would be helpful.

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