The New York state vaccine sign-up website opened up on Sunday morning to millions of individuals across the state with an underlying illness that puts them at risk of extreme COVID-19. But the sign-up page failed to keep up with the crush of individuals competing for a time-slot to get vaccinated, much as a month ago.
At 8:00 a.m., For those with underlying disabilities, the state’s qualifying portal has opened up a directory that includes people with cancer, moderate-to-severe asthma, diabetes, and other conditions. At first, for what was probably intended to be queries about someone’s underlying circumstances, the webpage displayed blank fields.The site’s server blocked anyone from accessing appointments at different sites showing availability, such as the Javits Center, for those who managed to get past the initial eligibility questions.
Among the New Yorkers who received an error message on the state website on Sunday was Jerry Quartley, a 56-year-old Brooklyn Heights resident with rheumatoid arthritis.
“I’m really not surprised that it is massively overbooked,” said Gothamist to Quartley. To no avail, he tried pharmacy websites as well. “Javits Center is probably the most convenient for me to get to but everything else goes out hundreds of miles.”
According to the city health department, about 4.5 million residents in NYC alone are now registered for vaccination, which is around half of the population of the city. This involves individuals with underlying disabilities who in recent weeks have been anxiously waiting for guidance on their qualifications as appointments have been extended to critical staff and individuals aged 65 and older. The Javits Center error message was also received by a Fort Greene resident with extreme asthma, Peggy Krisch.
“Due to high volume, appointments can’t be made at this time for this location. Please try again later,” read the message. “Server is not currently available. Please try again after sometime.”
The office of Governor Andrew Cuomo didn’t respond to questions immediately. The eligibility screening tool and scheduling site “are working extremely well” on Sunday afternoon, a state health department spokesperson, Gary Holmes, said.
More than 876,000 individuals had used the eligibility screening method as of 1 p.m. About 350 appointments every minute, more than 100,000 in total, were booked.
Holmes noted that several people are placed in a waiting room to arrange their appointment with a technology that is used by Ticketmaster. New Yorkers can see a warning about high volumes if there are so many individuals in the scheduling system and the virtual waiting space. Those eligible to keep seeking, he urged. Appointments are being added during the day.
Before being informed that there were no appointments available for the city health department or the city hospitals, Alexandra Zevin, who deals with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, was on hold with Health + Hospitals for 50 minutes.