Despite glitches, 600,000 people register for B.C. vaccine card

While there were some technical glitches during Tuesday morning's soft launch, the registration portal appeared to be operating smoothly by Wednesday.

Vancouver Sun 4 minute read September 9, 2021

Less than a day after B.C. officially launched its vaccine card, more than 596,000 people had signed up for the province’s proof-of-immunization program.

While there were some technical glitches during Tuesday morning’s soft launch, the registration portal appeared to be operating smoothly by Wednesday.

But the experience was confusing and frustrating for many, especially those who waited up to an hour to register for a QR code only to have the machine-readable barcode disappear after they hit the “done” button, forcing them to repeat the process all over again.

The vast majority of complaints had to do with the lack of a “save” function that would allow users to save the QR code into their phone’s files or as a PDF for easy printing, exacerbated by the lack of clear instructions.

Jessica Pettie, who lives in Chilliwack, waited 45 minutes on Tuesday to get on the registration page. After she got her QR code, she tried to save it onto her phone, but couldn’t.

On Wednesday, “I waited in queue for an additional 25 minutes just to re-enter the same information as yesterday,” she said. “This time though I decided to do a screenshot. Not user-friendly at all.”

Currently, the only way to save the card is to take a screenshot and save it, such as as a photo in your phone’s photo folder.

Tamara Cobbin, who lives in downtown Vancouver, tried to register and was frustrated by the process. She called the vaccination call centre about the lack of a “save” option and was told to try again in a few days.

It’s baffling why the government wouldn’t try to make the process as easy and convenient as possible, she said.

“If you want us to do something, make it easier,” she said. “It does not matter if I support this passport or I do not, it must be easier to access to get more people on board, otherwise you will increase the naysayers and have more revolts.”

Many questioned why there was no ability to save the card on Apple wallet or its Android equivalent for easier access in the future.

“Having it in the wallet is way more convenient and will help reduce the frustration of someone flipping through a thousand pictures to find it while other people are getting impatient, because people are on edge as it is,” said Andrew Mallalieu of New Westminster.

Like others, Mallalieu took a screenshot of the card, and favourited the photo so it’s easier to find.

“While the process to get the card is pretty straightforward, the instructions are very lacking,” said Betty Nobel, who was using a desktop computer and managed to get her and her husband’s vaccine cards printed out after several tries.

Because of the lack of clear instructions for printing, Nobel ended up copy-and-pasting the text on the screen, including the QR code, into a Word document.

While she was trying to figure out how to save the card onto her PC, she called the vaccination call centre and was told a copy of the card would be automatically placed in her downloads folder (it wasn’t).

Some people complained of long wait times to get through to the vaccination call centre. One senior said they tried to go to a Service B.C. office on Wednesday, but left because the lineup was around the building. A few others expressed concern about the potential for fraud.

The B.C. vaccine card is required to access non-essential services and venues, such as restaurants, movie theatres and gyms. It takes effect Sept. 13, when British Columbians will need at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to enter designated venues. They can also use the paper vaccine card provided by vaccine clinics until Sept. 26.

Effective September 13, people aged 12 and over will be required to show proof of vaccination to get into many events and businesses in BC. Are you vaccinated with your first or second dose? Get your digital or paper BC Vaccine Card today. #CovidBC — BC Government News (@BCGovNews) September 8, 2021

Starting Oct. 24, people need to be fully vaccinated with two doses at least seven days earlier to get access.

People 18 and older will need to present one piece of government identification along with their B.C. vaccine card.

People without access to smartphones or a computer and printer can get a printed copy mailed to them by calling the Get Vaccinated call centre at 1-833-838-2323. They can also visit a Service B.C. centre (except ones in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey) to get one.