Once upon a time, Albertans set their alarm clocks to buy concert tickets on the opening day of sales. Today, the hottest ticket in the province seems to be an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination.

It didn't take long for the vaccination booking system to crash on the first day of eligibility for Alberta seniors 75 and older.

Local Cochrane resident Lee Ann DeCoteau was one of the many thousands of Albertans trying to get through as soon as the online and phone bookings opened up.

"I set my alarm, so probably somewhere between ten to eight and five to eight, as they instructed people that it would open up for booking as of 8 am," says DeCoteau. "I actually started calling and trying to get online and about three and a half hours later ... forget it!"

DeCoteau has spent much of the day trying to book a vaccination appointment for her father who will be turning 88 this year.

She says that although he is in relatively good health, he is a diabetic. She says that since he is in the high-risk category he has spent the last year extremely isolated.

Feeling frustrated by the overwhelmed booking system, DeCoteau says that AHS should have anticipated such a large volume and been better prepared.

"Sometimes I got as far as putting in my postal code and then nothing," says DeCoteau. "Once I actually got to fill out the whole form and when I got to the end It said it was having trouble to submit it and to please call 811, which of course that's a joke too. Nobody can get through to their numbers."

We heard from many other frustrated Cochrane residents who encountered similar failed attempts today and less than a handful of Cochranites who were successful in booking appointments. 

DeCoteau had some suggestions of her own, on how AHS could have been better equipped to handle the large volume.

"They should have been more structured," says DeCoteau. "Let's try alphabetical, A - E or whatever, you can book between 8 and noon or something."

Despite the tied-up phone lines and website crashing, more than 12,000 Alberta seniors 75 and older were successful in booking appointments by noon today. (February 24)