BOSTON (WHDH) - The state’s COVID-19 vaccine site finder website crashed Thursday morning as about one million Massachusetts residents became eligible to schedule an appointment.
Vaccination appointments opened up at 8 a.m. for about one million more residents, including people 65 years and older, people who have at least two comorbidities, and people who live and work in low-income or affordable senior housing facilities.
People visiting the state’s VaxFinder website as the 70,000 appointments became available were met with a message that “this application had crashed.” Visitors were advised to try again shortly.
State officials released a statement on Twitter at 9:50 a.m. that read, “Due to extremely high volume, the VaxFinder tool and vaccine location websites are experiencing delays and technical difficulties. We are working as quickly as possible to resolve these issues. More mass vaccination appointments will be released throughout the morning.”
Due to extremely high volume, the VaxFinder tool and vaccine location websites are experiencing delays and technical difficulties. We are working as quickly as possible to resolve these issues. More mass vaccination appointments will be released throughout the morning.
— Mass.gov (@MassGov) February 18, 2021
They later announced around 11:15 a.m. that all appointments for mass vaccination locations in Springfield, Danvers, Natick and Dartmouth have been booked for the next week, but additional appointments will be made available.
“We apologize for the website challenges and are working to rectify these issues as soon as possible,” state officials reiterated.
Additional appointments at other locations will posted throughout the day today. We apologize for the website challenges and are working to rectify these issues as soon as possible.
— Mass.gov (@MassGov) February 18, 2021
A heated Gov. Charlie Baker addressed the failure of the website during an interview on GBH’s “Boston Public Radio,” saying, “My hair’s on fire about the whole thing. I cannot even begin to tell you how pissed off I am.”
Baker then added, “This is not satisfactory … it’s awful. It’s going to get fixed and I’m going to work very hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
After the website initially crashed, Mass. Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel told 7NEWS that, “I understand the frustration related to this and I’m deeply sorry for that. I don’t have the specifics of the technical issues related to IT but people are working to have that fixed as quickly as possible and I’m hoping that’ll be by later this morning that we’ll have that fixed. When you go to the website, sometimes you’re able to get on so I urge people to continue to keep trying.”
CIC Health, which runs mass vaccination sites at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro and Fenway Park in Boston, also released a statement, saying that they are still administering vaccinations to those with an appointment and those who do not have an appointment should keep trying to access the VaxFinder website.
“While we don’t manage vaxfinder.mass.gov, we are very aware how this situation affects our guests,” CIC Health wrote. “We are as frustrated as you are.”
Good morning. A brief update for you in regards to scheduling future COVID-19 vaccination appointments: pic.twitter.com/YNk1SAqvds
— CIC Health (@CIC_Health) February 18, 2021
Baker had originally said during a press conference Wednesday that he thought the website would “be in good shape” for the added traffic Thursday morning.
The state’s COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management Committee is holding a hearing on Feb. 25 to listen to testimony from the Baker Administration about how it has been distributing vaccine doses and its plans for the future.
Senate President Karen E. Spilka says that they expect answers about the website crash during this hearing.
“I am deeply disappointed that today so many Massachusetts residents are feeling frustration and anger on a day when we should be experiencing hope. I hear it and I feel it too,” she said. “The Senate and House are holding a public, livestreamed oversight hearing on Thursday, February 25 and we expect answers from those responsible for this failure. The Administration must deliver a better experience for our residents, who have already dealt with so much anxiety and disruption.”
While speaking with the Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Baker said weather issues across the country could create problems and delay the vaccine rollout.
“We had been told that it may be a few days late based on some of the issues around with,” Baker said. “We got told last night that we might see a significant delay in our next shipments.”
Baker noted that he might send the National Guard to Kentucky and Tennessee to pick up the state’s disbursement of vaccines, but he would need federal approval to do so.
This is a developing story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest updates.
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