DC Adds Extra Vaccine Registration Session, Technical Issues Persist

On Thursday and Friday morning, many D.C. residents who were newly eligible to book vaccine appointments couldn't register. DC Health has apologized for the technical issues

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After Washington D.C. residents with qualifying medical conditions couldn’t book vaccination appointments Thursday due to technical difficulties, the city offered an apology and promised residents an extra registration session Saturday.

However, the technical issues that were supposed to be fixed persisted into Friday morning.

Another round of technical issues was reported on Saturday morning, NBC Washington reported.

Robert, a 40-year resident of NW, says he tried to register online and on phone with no luck. Robert says the phone rang for more than four minutes before the line went dead and the website didn't work any better.

People trying by phone and web portal say the challenge is the line is either busy or there are no appointments when they do get through. Trying to get an appointment is becoming a bigger pain than the shot itself, they say.

D.C. council members have been barraged with complaints about the portal and phone system. They are trying to get answers about why it's not working and when it might be fixed.

D.C. Chief Technology Officer Lindsey Parker acknowledged the frustrations on Twitter Friday afternoon, saying the issue is the number of doses the District receives. She said more than 36,000 people got online at the same time to claim one of the 4,350 appointments made available. Those appointments were booked in a half hour.

Parker offered these tips for trying to make an appointment online:

  • Only use the browsers Chrome and Firefox, or Safari on a Mac
  • Refresh your browser if you run into trouble
  • Try a different browser if you’re still having trouble
  • Try clearing your browser’s cache

There will also be an additional registration session for 3,500 appointments on Saturday, February 27 at 9 a.m., for eligible residents with qualifying medical conditions in priority zip codes.

D.C. expanded eligibility for vaccines this week to residents aged 16-64 with chronic conditions. Thousands of appointments were made available Thursday morning to residents in priority zip codes, but numerous people with qualifying conditions couldn’t book.

Other groups could register, and the available appointments were quickly filled.

DC Health apologized for the confusion and frustration.

“We apologize for the issues with the vaccination portal this morning. The District’s COVID-19 vaccination appointment portal did not perform as expected due to a technical review failure that resulted in eligible residents with a qualifying medical condition being unable to register. As the IT team worked to stabilize the website due to heavy traffic, there were delays in finding and fixing the issue with the eligibility criteria."

"We know how stressful of a time this is, and we regret that this unfortunate situation occurred on a day when many of our residents with chronic health conditions were newly eligible for vaccination appointments,” the statement read.

Appointments can be scheduled by visiting vaccinate.dc.gov or calling 1-855-363-0333.

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