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Mass. vaccination site adds 50,000 slots and a waiting room, but keeps the frustration

beetlejuice next in line

Update: We have a new, um, winner: Viewstitch reports: 104435 minutes - that’s 72 1/2 days.

At 8 this morning, people now eligible for shots (or their young'uns helping them out) rushed to their computers to try to score one of those new appointments. At least no four-armed octopus this time, but instead, a waiting room, of the sort familiar to people who try to get, oh, Sox tickets. And still with the crashes.

Franny Murphy reports:

Two minutes left in the waiting room to book a vaccine appt for my mom and the whole site crashes. Now my wait time is 8551 minutes. This is awful and I have the ability to navigate a system.

That's 142 1/2 hours.

Alex, meanwhile, reported a 913-minute wait to try to get a slot in Springfield.

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Comments

Not THIS corner, though, or that other one, or the one you can sort of see over there, or that one either

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Voting closed 38

I was lucky enough to be able to get into the Danvers site. Answered all the questions, then system told me there were no appointments available.

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I logged in and was told I had an estimated 8551 minute wait time. A little while later it was down in the 200s, then 80s, then 65, then 150, then eventually 19 minutes then CRASH. Now trying again, same random ups and downs (currently at 97 minutes). Fun, fun, fun.

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I think of it as a very large and slow moving airport waiting area.

I'm in this group and I'm constantly trying to gauge the chance that I can get an appointment given the scrum (knowing what the inventory is), and if my chances will be better if I let the excitement die down a bit, versus the chance that the "it should be MY turn NOW" drumbeat is going to inject another million people into the fray before I can do so.

But at least the chance of getting vaccinated soon is actually going up because the deliveries are increasing (weather delays, sure, but amount is up). My odds are much better than the chance of it "going away just like that" or the chance that "we will have a better healthcare system than Obamacare in two weeks" or the chance that Mexico will pay for a wall.

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And they're gone, for the most part. I did not hear good things about the new waiting room - people waiting and then getting kicked out again to wait all over again.

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But once you get past the waiting room it goes back to the old system and if you don't enter the 8000 pages quickly enough, the spot disappears. Got in twice this morning and twice halfway through entering the info, it stopped and said there were no more appointments and brought me back to the search screen.

So they still haven't figured out what Ticket Master has known for years. The Baker administration was obviously so hands off it hurts. Why this wasn't this anticipated? This is an allocation problem that needed to be calculated into the software. How could anyone have signed off on this without even mentioning it to someone expert in logistics who would've seen the issues immediately? (I know, I used to work in logistics). They can't blame the federal gov't either because from day one they have all said, demand is going to outstrip supply in the first few months.

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What they ought to do is let any eligible person submit their information on a rolling basis and then step away, but periodically as needed run a lottery among all submissions, which would then unlock those accounts for scheduling and prompt an email/call to let those people know that they are now able to schedule an appointment. The devil would obviously be in the details but this would be much more equitable and convenient than the current system.

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When it expands to grocery and retail workers, who famously have the ability to refresh web pages all day and know in advance what their schedules for the next few weeks will look like.

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Why oh why are they putting *ALL* the appointments up at once.

Having everyone and everyone's sister log on at the same time to get appointments might be some of the reason why its crashing.

Put 30 or so up every hour, 24 hours a day. Then you can try ANYTIME. Not when "appointments will be released at xx time"

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if they're putting up appointments all the time any time, I think you'd still get a lot of people refreshing constantly to see if there's any available.

What you really need, as mentioned above, is a system where everyone can sign up w/ their info, and then the system picks some number at random and contacts them when there's an opening.

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but I think my point was.. after a certain time.. those would drop off.

The load at 1am will not be the same at 1pm.

I hate to use the ticketmaster example but this is why people get up at 2am to buy concert tickets to avoid what is happening now with the state.

I agree.. a will call list would work better.

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Ticketmaster was my first thought. Getting stuck in the waiting room for so long there's nothing left by the time you get to choose your tickets, or making it all the way to the end only to be dumped out. Aargh.

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I despise ticketmaster, but they have this figured out.

You pick your tickets and THEN get to enter in your info. It has a countdown timer to let you know that if you don't finish your purchase, your tickets will be released.

A will call list would solve most of this anyways, you'd just be notified when its time to pick a time.

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My wife was lucky enough to go to Egypt with her parents as a teen.

She told me she will never forget when they announced a flight to Tripoli that everyone rushed to the gate and people started pushing each other to get on board and throwing their bags ahead, despite the fact that the flight wasn't going to leave until everyone got on board.

It sounds like the boomers are their self-centered selves again and are rushing to get on the plane, even though it will take everyone at some point if you just have the ability to wait a little bit.

By the way, nothing funnier than watching the retired complain on tv that they might have to drive 40 minutes each way to an appointment. I guess they don't want to miss watching Fox News all day for the sake of their health.

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nothing funnier than watching the retired complain on tv that they might have to drive 40 minutes each way to an appointment

Many of us retired (and others) don't have a car, or have problems with vision, reaction time, and other physical ailments, or cant even stand in line without pain. Some of us retired can barely make it out of our apartment to take a walk.

Driving an hour to Gillette is not an option for many of us. And it's not funny.

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Voting closed 38

10 people in line today taking my mother in for her second shot. The line lasted 15 minutes.

Many of you retired have too much time on your hands. Yup, some people have aliments, but a lot of 65 to 75 are active as hell. Driving an hour to Gillette is an option for hundreds of thousands. Sorry about you. Not sorry for the person who is too lazy to make a bid. Want to live? Get it done.

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boomers are their self-centered selves...nothing funnier than watching the retired complain...I guess they don't want to miss watching Fox News all day for the sake of their health

...looks like it's a day ending in a Y.

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I had to sign up for a driver's license appointment today (my picture needs updating).

They gave me five minutes to put my name et cetera in and kept the appointment locked while I was doing that.

What's so hard about designing that into your web site? Or even better, have you enter all the data once and save it, so you don't have to reenter it if you have to change an appointment?

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I finally got through, didn't get booted. It kept showing me places with 0 appointments (gee, thanks) with the occasional one saying there were appointments available but when I'd click through it would show that no time slots were available. Even ones that showed double-digits (I gave up on even trying for those showing less than 4).

I just ignored my job all morning for this crap.

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Supply - 50,000 slots
Demand - 1 to 1.5 million people.

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When the site says there are 11 slots available at the Reggie Lewis Center, I don't expect them all to disappear a second later when I click on it.

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I think most of us understand that demand is far exceeding supply. And most of us would be patient, if the system gave us a reliable queue where we could pre-register and then sit back and wait. This system does not allow you to be patient - it requires incessant monitoring/refreshing/re-entering with a lot of frustration mixed in. Sure you can sit back and do nothing and wait for demand to decrease, but there are even bigger phases coming up, so how long do you wait?

Yes, some of us are armchair web developers, but the people who were paid to do this had ample time, and could have designed this better.

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When I finally got through, I expected to see a list of places with openings. Instead I had to scroll through a sea of listings saying they had zero slots (and each listing takes up the full screen). It doesn't take a programming genius to write code that only displays listings where N doesn't equal 0.

And yes, I have experience in programming and public health.

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https://www.macovidvaccines.com/ filters sites with no availability - but they are currently suffering from the same "wait in line" requirement.

It's unfortunate because people are developing strategies to compensate for the failures of the system, in order to help themselves and others, and then the system shifts to make these strategies ineffective.

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There’s a Way to Fix the Vaccine Appointment Mess

West Virginia uses a statewide preregistration system and has so far been more successful at vaccinating its population than almost every other state. It controls the process from preregistration to appointment. To get the vaccine, almost all residents, with a few exceptions, are required to use the state system, with options to register either online or by phone.

Where did they get this cool system?

Burlington tech firm helps West Virginia become a vaccination leader

Everbridge built a streamlined platform to book inoculations — something Mass. lacks

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1. WV initially got a lot more vaccine per capita than MA did
2. WV only has 1/4 the population of MA
3. MA has much stronger medical and personal information privacy laws

Seems every techie has a "perfect solution" for this, but few of those "we can just do THIS" screeds come close to considering fundamental on-the-ground public health realities for certain marginalized and vulnerable populations. The Superior Knowlege of Computers Can Fix This meme is getting tiresome.

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A waiting list with callback (text-back, email-back) isn't a difficult concept and far superior to the current user experience. This isn't hard. (edit: and totally independent of vaccine supply and population)

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The tech coding isn't hard.

The three things mentioned above? ISSUES.

Also, equity? People without computers or cel phones? People who don't have a working knowledge of English? People who WILL NOT EVER put such personal info into a website because they fear deportation, losing their jobs and health care, and hackers?

Not to mention that NOT EVERYONE HAS A CAR TO GET TO THESE SITES.

Your "isn't haaaarrrrrdddd" is a computer jockey approach that is oh so convenient for privileged people to soak up all the shots. It is not a public health approach that will accomplish the critical public health objectives of reaching the most vulnerable and most exposed.

THERE IS A DIFFERENCE.

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I didn't say this would solve all (or any) the equity problems. I'm just saying that no one with an ounce of user Interface experience would design a system that only allows a small percentage people to succeed based on their ability to sit on hold (whether on a phone or computer) and dumb luck, leaving most to have to try try again later. For reaching the segment of the population for which it is appropriate, it's close to the worst solution (short of nothing) one could come up with.

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Swirly, How can you possibly argue against the state having a pre registration system that would, you know, actually work, rather than the suck system we have here that crashes when the state receives an increase in doses?
You bitch and moan using CAPS ad nauseum about lack of supply, then the minute the supply increases, our "system" crashes. Great, we have a bump in the supply of vaccines, but we do not have a functional way to schedule people for appointments. Awesome! And here you are arguing against having a functional system.

Also worth mentioning that you clearly missed, the WV system allows for Phone Registrations. Last I checked, you can still use a conventional phone to make a phone call.

Do you add any value to the Vaccination effort or do you just sit around in the comments sections with your complete and utter nonsense?

I thought WV was just a bunch of hicks, but no, they have a functional system compared to our shitshow. must be killing you

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?

The high-level vaccine distribution model is quite inequitable, and then also the problems with the website within the context of that model generate further inequities. Do you care more about improving equity, or about being ride-or-die for whatever private-sector vendor threw together this website?

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West freaking Virginia has its own set of problems which Mass. doesn't? Their population is largely rural, which makes distribution more challenging. Their population is poorer and less educated. Cell service is spotty in many areas due to the rugged terrain and broadband availability is far worse (30% of the population lacks access). WV is basically a bigger, poorer version of Western Mass. and we're doing a shit job of getting people vaccinated there, too.

And you don't think the political bent of the population there makes them less willing to trust the government, especially when it comes to vaccines?

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Where are the vaccine appt's for Chelsea / Malden? I thought they were hit the hardest

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On the same website.

At a different time.

Will enrollment restrictions.

They are also being booked separately through community health workers doing outreach in those communities.

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I can remember my childhood phone number but I cant remember the password I created yesterday or how to navigate the vaccination website. I am frustrated and depressed but the you tube video of Beetlejuice made my day and brought a smile to this old mans face.

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Adam, this did bring a much needed smile. :)

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So I had my personal version of the experience others have reported, before giving up after about 2-1/2 hours. When bouncing around different appointment sites I kept seeing the instruction "If you are scheduling a second appointment you have to get the same vaccine type as your first appointment. But everyone I know who has had a first shot has scheduled their second appointment on-site. So why does this instruction keep appearing? I can't imagine having the time or stamina to deal with the scheduling website twice.

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Except on Cape Cod where there was a brief vaccination center in Hyannis but the lucky ones who got shot one were told that no one knew when the 2nd shots were going to be available. Its been over 2 weeks and still no information.

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I am sort of glad I have to sit back and watch the carnage over making appointments for now. Since I had a chemo infusion in mid December, I have to wait until the end of March to get my vaccine. Not happy about our Governor taking doses away from hospitals, as I am one of the very few people who have a reaction. Guess it is Gillette Stadium for me - at least there will be qualified medical staff on hand while I take my Benadryl....
Peace/out

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I was contacted earlier in the week by my provider, they will be contacting eligible patients to schedule an appointment. So you may be able to schedule something soon for the end of March? Wishing you smooth sailing with your treatment and recovery.

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So, the state of Massachusetts only has a 900 a minute log-in license for PrepMod COVID vaccination software according to Maryland Partnership for Prevention’s Executive Director Tiffany Tate. Did anyone notice?

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On Thursday (of last week) when vaccine became available I tried internet access about ten times and repeatedly experienced “bad gateway” notice or general web crash.

After that I decided to call BMC directly, and spoke to an actual human. I was registered for appointment right away by a very pleasant person. Arrived 45 minutes earlier than planned on appointed day (no line BTW!) got painless vaccine and follow-up appointment. Sometimes the old fashioned method works best. Good luck to all!

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Someone I know had the same experience today and got an appointment for next week. I do believe you need to be a city of Boston resident though.

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Just a note that Boston Medical Center (BMC) appointments are for Boston residents. You had to certify that you met the general Massachusetts requirements and were a Boston resident. I also called and waited about 20 minutes before being able to speak with someone. I can confirm that, as of yesterday, they were able to book appointments into next week. A good resource for Boston residents...

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When I registered I got the impression that BMC was only for Boston residents. I checked their registration page just now and it says that they serve all across the Commonwealth, with an emphasis on Boston residents. Not sure how that is implemented in practice....here is their wording:

"COVID-19 vaccine supply is limited, and we are only able to offer vaccinations to individuals currently eligible under the Massachusetts state guidelines. These vaccination sites serve everyone across the Commonwealth, but are particularly focused on serving residents who live or receive primary care in Boston. Please fill out this form to confirm you are able to receive a COVID-19 vaccination at this time."

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First, a caveat: BMC is scheduling appointments by phone for current patients or residents of Boston ONLY, you have to confirm your address/zip code. (And yes, I know this information is different from what is stated on the website). Call wait time this afternoon was approximately one minute, you are required to register as a BMC patient (so quite a few questions). As of this afternoon there were appointment slots for Friday.

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I received care at BMC over a decade ago and was still on record as a patient. I had no idea that was criteria for appointment. Encouraging anyone who has received care there in the past to give it a go. They were absolutely lovely.

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