SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- One day after a massive crash of the state's COVID-19 vaccine appointment site, limited supply mixed with technical errors in scheduling has prompted concerns.
State officials have six days to fix the errors, as new appointment blocks opened up each Thursday, and all this comes as the state narrowly avoids the cancellation of hundreds of vaccine appointments next week.
With winter weather in the southern parts of the U.S, nearly stranded thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses earmarked for Massachusetts.
They could have been delayed until Monday, meaning that appointments this weekend and next were hanging in the balance, but luckily, it was avoided.
Governor Charlie Baker tweeted out that federal officials were able to rush 135,000 doses to Massachusetts in time.
We've been in constant communication with federal officials to rush vaccine shipments to Massachusetts. Today, 135,025 arrived to the Commonwealth and as a result, providers will not have to cancel appointments. We appreciate the efforts made to get this critical shipment here.— Charlie Baker (@MassGovernor) February 19, 2021
That's only half the equation, as state officials are now working to ensure problems in the online scheduling process worked out for future appointments.
"I tried at least 10 times," said Agawam resident Christine Wehr.
Wehr said she did everything she could to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment through the Massachusetts vaccine finder website, operated by a program called PrepMod.
Thursday was the first day she was allowed to sign up for a vaccine, one of approximately one million newly eligible.
[Were you able to get an appointment?]
"No, no," she said.
Neither could Lois Gauthier of Westfield, who told Western Mass News she got disconnected from the 2-1-1 hotline multiple times.
"I got halfway through, and it hung up on me. Then it pretty much continued like that," Gauthier said.
In a chaotic situation, however, appointments were still able to be made.
State officials with the COVID-19 Command Center released a statement, saying:
"Despite these difficulties, 60,000 mass vaccination appointments, for the week, were booked. At this time, there are no availabilities for Fenway, Foxborough, Danvers, Natick, Dartmouth, and Springfield."
Western Mass News spoke with the founder of PrepMod, Tiffany Tate, who said the state's vaccine finder website is where people got this error message.
She said the PrepMod system saw a mass influx of traffic, going from the usual 1,000 hits per minute to 70,000 hits per minute. She has vowed to increase their capacity to accept online web traffic.
"It’s unacceptable that someone goes to that site and isn't given any information," she noted. "We are very committed to making sure that doesn’t happen again."
State health officials also promised to make fixes to the process as well.
This as people who were unable to make an appointment this Thursday will have to try their luck next Thursday when the next mass block of appointment slots is released.
"It was just so frustrating, and there's got to be a better way of doing it," Wehr added.
State officials also said they are currently testing the website to make sure it can handle the demand later on.