Less than 90 minutes after opening up 50,000 new COVID-19 vaccine appointments on Thursday, Massachusetts announced the slots were mostly spoken for.
“Due to a severely limited vaccine supply and a large population of individuals eligible to get a vaccine, this week’s 50,000 appointments at mass vaccination sites across the Commonwealth are nearly all filled,” came the announcement from state officials via tweet at 9:27 a.m.
Rollout of what Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker promised would be a “bolstered” vaccine scheduling website with a new digital waiting room feature, was rocky, too. The changes were made after multiple websites crashed last week, leaving thousands scrambling to find appointments.
State Sen. Becca Rausch, D-Needham — who along with other lawmakers has for weeks demanded the state move to a centralized registration system — said this week’s experience “is actually worse.”
The vaxfinder.ma.gov portal Thursday morning did point to open appointment slots, but error messages and excruciating wait times – as much as 8,000 minutes — followed for many.
Baker said Wednesday if you start the process of checking all the appropriate boxes, you’d keep your place in line.
That did not appear to be the case for many. An error message saying: “Application Error: We are currently experiencing a high volume of traffic and are unable to serve your request. Please wait a moment and try again,” popped up for some.
State Sen. Eric Lesser described it as a “hunger-games process” and said, “I’m scratching my head at the completely preventable mistakes.”
“The technology failures are just inexcusable,” he said.
The nonsensical waiting room clock states: “Welcome to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts COVID-19 Vaccination Appointment Scheduling Site: Your estimated wait time is 501 minutes.”
That equates to 8.35 hours.
But that seems like a deal compared to the 8,551 minutes waiting room queued up for the Gillette Stadium mass vaccination site.
That works out to 142.51 hours or six days.
Open appointment slots for both Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park also sent users to the next virtual waiting room where the message reads: “No appointments available.”