Technical glitches confuse those waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine during Austin Public Health rollout

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Public Health is acknowledging the technical issues that have bogged down its initial COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Patients have reported scheduling issues, including timeslots being overbooked or appointments even getting canceled. Some said the vaccine registration site crashed before they could even sign up.

Health officials are asking for the community’s patience. APH had vaccinated more than 4,000 people through Wednesday, after getting a shipment of 12,000 doses from the state Monday.

“We understand there is frustration with technical issues, staffing limitations and the novelty of the program that we have seen this week,” said APH Director Stephanie Hayden. “We hope people can understand that we are seeking to get this vaccine to the people who need it most as quickly and efficiently as we can. Ultimately, we are very happy to see that people overwhelmingly want to get vaccinated, and we hope to soon be able to provide the vaccine to more people.”

Christina Meiring is eligible for the vaccine and signed up through APH as soon as she could.

“I was so relieved, I said I’m finally going to get the [COVID] vaccine,” she explained.

But only a few hours after getting the conformation email, she received a follow-up telling her the appointment she made had been canceled, with no immediate follow-up.

“That’s when I started calling different numbers and getting very frustrated,” she said.

When she finally reached an APH employee, they told her to bring proof of her confirmation email, and that she would get a shot. Meiring says she’ll arrive early for her appointment time but isn’t really sure what to expect.

“I said, If I come tomorrow at my designated time, are they going to tell me they’ve run out of vaccines?” she recalled. “She said, no, there are plenty of vaccines — you are guaranteed a vaccine.”

APH says most of the technical glitches came from too many people crashing the system. The city’s health department is using the same scheduling vendor it uses for COVID-19 testing.

APH says it has teams working around the clock to fix technical issues, which the authority says should resolve themselves as people begin to sign up on a more rolling basis.  

Sally Nagy was able to sign up but is concerned about family members. She says they tried to register but couldn’t do so because the website crashed.

“It said we’re having technical difficulties, try later,” she told us. “So I don’t know what anyone is going to do.”

APH also says some people completed pre-registration and saw a screen showing no appointments available. APH says this happened, because there actually were no appointments left to schedule.

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