KINGSTON, ONT. -- As Kingston prepares to roll out more COVID-19 vaccines, the region is being treated as a testing ground for the new provincial booking system.

The COVaxOn system will be the way residents can schedule their COVID-19 vaccination appointment.

The Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health region is one of six that has started a “soft launch” of the website, confirms Dr. Kieran Moore, the regions medical officer of health.

“We’re sending out individual invitations to a very defined population to register and book an appointment,” says Moore.

For now, only those who are contacted, and over the age of 80, and who qualify for the vaccine, will be able to book their appointment through the portal.

“They’ll verify with their OHIP number that the request to make that booking is, in fact, for themselves,” explains Moore. “They’ll do that seamlessly, and electronically.”

The plan will help the province test components of the system to help determine whether any changes need to be made, ahead of it’s official release on March 15.

“That is launched, it’s going well,” confirms Moore of the region's test. “We’re learning from it and we’ll be informing the province of any issues we’ve had over the week.”

The announcement comes as KFL&A opened its new mass vaccination clinic at the Invista Centre on Gardiners Rd., on Monday.

Public health says it has the capability to vaccinate up to 10,000 people a day between its three locations, when supply becomes available.

Almost 6,000 residents have received their first doses of the vaccine, and about half of that number have gotten their second dose.

Among those individuals are long-term care home residents and those in retirement homes, front-line workers, and those who live in shelters, says Moore.

They’ve also begun vaccinating paramedics in the region, and those who work in intensive care units.

“It is multiple streams in parallel right now, but we’re not finished any of them as we try to move forward,” says Moore.

Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson says while the region had a slow start to get the vaccines in arms, he calls the work public health has done so far a ‘success’.

“Even if we’re a little bit lower on the priority list than some of the other hot spots in the province, we’ll be able to roll out that vaccine very, very quickly and make sure that everyone get vaccinated as quickly as possible,” he says.