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Mass. vaccine site is an infuriating exercise in ‘hurry up and wait’

Adobe/Globe Staff

Time on her hands to ask a few questions

Questions that arose while repeatedly hitting the refresh button during my journey to get a vaccination slot through the state website on Thursday from 8 a.m. until 1:40 p.m.:

Why didn’t the state organize us into smaller groups so that we didn’t keep crashing a system that was obviously incapable of meeting the needs of our 65+ age group?

Why didn’t the state implement a virtual waiting room (the Red Sox figured this out years ago)?

Why did the state set up a system that made me compete with my peers?

Why did I have to fill out information only to be told the slots were no longer available?


Why did this task need the attention of two computer-savvy adults, each with our own computer (and jobs), that compelled us each to spend more than five hours setting up two appointments?

Who did I pass in line who needs the vaccine more than I do?

How does engaging in this process support a caring state community?

Elka Kuhlman


Her group chat worked better in finding an appointment

On Thursday, along with about 1 million newly eligible adults in Massachusetts, I attempted to sign my husband up for a vaccine appointment through the state system. I spent hours spinning in frustration, anger, and disbelief. How could this be? How could the state so erroneously set up a system that could not handle the predictably overwhelming number of vaccine-hunting adults?

I was on a group chat with friends, all of whom were in the same vaccine appointment hell, when one texted to tell us that Milford Regional Hospital had spots open. In two minutes, my husband had an appointment. Easy, streamlined, with no issues. The state would do well to check out their system to see how well it can be done.

The state needs to get it together. We have all been living with fluctuating levels of anxiety and frustration for almost a year. This should not be a process that adds to that.


Cindy Maliniak


‘We can land a rover on Mars, but . . .’

A text message I received from a friend on Thursday:

“Today’s takeaway. We can land a rover on Mars, but we can’t work a website designed to help humans schedule a vaccine that will help to keep them healthy and alive.”

Kathleen Ferry


States shouldn’t have to scramble to fill federal vacuum

“Application error, “This application crashed,” and my favorite (so far) “502 Gateway.” The engineering, or lack thereof, of the Massachusetts vaccination site would be hilarious if its impact were not so serious. Yet the root cause of these failures does not lie primarily with application developers or state government. Rather, it’s the ludicrous notion that a system that is needed to function nationwide and equitably for all citizens is left for each state to figure out for itself.

What one state learns about what works well and what doesn’t cannot be applied readily elsewhere. Where would we be if developing the vaccines had been relegated to the states?

There is a real parallel between the clunkiness of the vaccine rollout and the weather-related disaster unfolding in Texas, which chose to go its own way with managing its energy grid. Both are tied to the notion that state governments are better suited than the federal government to guard the rights of all citizens to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We replaced the Articles of Confederation with our Constitution and completed our Civil War with the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments because we suffered the consequences of leaving the defense of those rights to the states. When oh when will we appreciate that?


Rick Schrenker

North Reading

Rick Schrenker e-mailed again three hours and 29 minutes later to write:

“Almost made it . . . had entered my insurance information . . . clicked . . .

“And then I got ‘An unhandled lowlevel error occurred. The application logs may have details.’

“Sad . . .”