A day after website crash, coronavirus vaccine appointments hard to find

BOSTON (AP/WHDH) — A day after Massachusetts residents trying to sign up for a coronavirus vaccine were frustrated by a website crash, they encountered a different problem on Friday: a lack of open appointments.

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About 60,000 people were able to sign up for a slot on Thursday even though the signup portal was down for about two hours in the morning. State officials said there were no more openings available at mass vaccination sites in Boston, Foxborough, Danvers, Natick, Dartmouth and Springfield.

Many residents 65 years of age and older who went to vaxfinder.mass.gov on Friday to book an appointment were told none were available.

A statement from state health officials said “a small number of appointments for other locations,” including pharmacies and regional collaboratives, would be posted over the next few days.

“Currently, approximately one million residents are now eligible and because supply is still severely limited by the federal government, it is expected to take at least a month for residents to book appointments,” the statement said.

Some good news did come on Friday when state officials announced that health care providers won’t be forced to cancel upcoming vaccination appointments, including those scheduled for this weekend, after more than 130,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Massachusetts.

“Today, 135,025 [doses] arrived to the Commonwealth and as a result, providers will not have to cancel appointments,” Kate Reilly, a spokesperson for the state’s COVID-19 Response Command Center, said in a statement. “The Administration appreciates the efforts made to get this critical shipment here and is not anticipating additional delays from the federal government for vaccine shipments at this time.”

Baker had expressed serious concern on Thursday over whether the Bay State’s expected shipment would be delayed by the winter storms that have spanned the country, shutting down transportation hubs and highways.

Meanwhile, the state vendor responsible for the signup portal apologized for the crash.

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“As public health servants and your partner, we are sorry for not meeting expectations,” Prep Mod said in a statement Thursday. “Unfortunately, the system did not scale fast enough to accommodate the increased volume. We will work continuously to ensure that the system is responsive to and accommodating for the people seeking COVID-19 vaccinations.”

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