Massachusetts public health officials apologized Thursday night after the state’s COVID-19 vaccination appointment website crashed earlier in the day, as a surge of newly eligible residents age 65 and over tried to book appointments.
“The state’s website to find and book vaccine appointments experienced delays and technical difficulties and the administration sincerely apologizes for the frustration and inconvenience our residents experienced over the course of the day,” the state’s COVID-19 Command Center said in a statement.
The delays came on the first day residents age 65 and over, as well as those who have two or more chronic health conditions, became eligible to receive the vaccine.
Despite these difficulties, the Command Center said 60,000 appointments were still booked for the week at the state’s mass vaccination sites. There are currently no availabilities for the inoculation locations at Fenway, Gillette, Danvers, Natick, Dartmouth, and Springfield.
The appointment website’s vendor, Prep Mod, also issued a statement saying it “deeply regretted” what happened in Massachusetts today, and said it accepted full responsibility.
“Governor Baker, Secretary Sudders, and the entire public health team entrusted us with the important duty of signing up people of the Commonwealth for COVID-19 vaccinations,” Prep Mod said before apologizing for not meeting expectations.
Prep Mod said the system that controls the website did not scale fast enough to accommodate the increased volume of people trying to access the site. The website is now operating normally, and the vendor said it will “work continuously to ensure that the system is responsive.”
The command center said the administration has been pressure testing the site to ensure the Prep Mod’s adjustments are adequate.
While the mass vaccination sites are booked for the week, a small number of appointments for other locations will be posted over the next several days, the command center said.
Approximately one million additional individuals in Mass. became eligible for the vaccine as of this morning. Because vaccination supply is severely limited, the command center expects it could still take at least a month for residents to book appointments.