SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Massachusetts residents ages 65 and over are officially eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine but it was a day filled with confusion and frustration for many when the state’s website crashed.
February 18 marked the next step for the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and it was off to a rocky start. About a million more residents in Massachusetts are now eligible for a vaccine.
On a day thousands were hoping to see confirmed appointments, they saw a screen with a question mark and an octopus, a sign signaling that the state’s vaccine finder website had crashed. Resulting in confusion for many residents, some of who aren’t tech-savvy.
“I have a computer yes, I have an email address but believe me I don’t know how to do much on the computer and I don’t think it’s fair to expect the elderly to do all that,” said Karen Horton, a Holland resident.
Even those who have a background in technology had issues.
“I started with my iPad, switched over to my iPhone and then two hours ago I switched to my laptop computer and tried that,” John Walsh told 22News.
Walsh spent four hours using three devices and had zero luck getting an appointment. 22News went back to the state’s website Thursday night. The state issued an apology in a tweet:
While it was back up and running with no issues, there were also no available appointments. The state has used online registration since day one of vaccine availability. However, state lawmakers have been concerned about this process well before the site went down.
Senator Eric Lesser said, “This is an embarrassment and I point out that these issues were identified a month ago.”
Senator Lesser filed legislation last month that would allow for a one-stop easy to use online portal with 24-hour call center with sufficient staffing. Strategies that have already been implemented in other parts of the country.
“Other states New Mexico for example has a one stop one link booking appointments,” Lesser added.
Lesser went on to say improvements will be made as soon as possible but adds a state that is a global leader in technology should have been more prepared.
He told 22News, “We knew a million people were going to be eligible for vaccine appointments today. There should have been preparations in place to handle that volume.”
In a radio interview with WGBH on Thursday, Gov. Baker said It’s going to get fixed and that he is going to work very hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again.