As quickly as 50,000 COVID vaccine appointments went live in Massachusetts Thursday morning, residents complained that the new "digital waiting room" was nearly as frustrating as the website crashing.
As of 7 a.m., tens of thousands of people were queued in a "digital waiting room," a new feature intended to prevent potential outages after Massachusetts' Vaxfinder site crashed last week due to high demand.
Multiple residents have reported that there wasn't enough time to make an appointment once users were allowed to move from the virtual waiting room onto the scheduling site. And within just a few hours, nearly all of the 50,000 appointments at mass vaccination sites were completely booked.
"I don’t know whether this wait list is working at all," Colleen O’Brien told NBC10 and NECN, after emailing that the waiting room is "almost as frustrating as site crashing."
O'Brien said she tried three times to enter her information in the time she was given to make an appointment for the coronavirus vaccine, and each time it expired. She was then told she'd have to wait over an hour to try again, with 95,969 people in line ahead of her.
More than 72,000 people were waiting in the virtual line at 7 a.m. Thursday just to get an appointment at the mass vaccination site in Danvers.
Around 9:30 a.m., state officials posted on Twitter that nearly all of the slots were quickly taken due to a "severely limited" supply and a large group of people eligible to get vaccinated.
"This morning’s experience is just as bad as the past previous week," resident Betty Davis said in an email. "Disgusted."
Davis said she waited with only 4,132 people in front of her but within a few minutes that number jumped to 48,000. Davis, too, described not having enough time to make the appointment once she was able to access the site with a code sent to her cell phone.
Gov. Charlie Baker promised key improvements have been made to the state's scheduling website Wednesday following the crash last week, which added to criticism over the state's rollout of the vaccination process.
The digital waiting room is "designed to basically keep the site running and operating to make sure people get through and have a smooth and uninterrupted experience," Baker said.
Residents can go to mass.gov/covidvaccine on Thursday morning to find and schedule their appointments. Anyone without access to a computer can call 211.
There are currently six mass vaccination sites across the state; Gillette Stadium, Fenway Park, the DoubleTree in Danvers, the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, the Natick Mall and a former Circuit City in Dartmouth.
Another is slated to open Thursday at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury. The Center, which opened early February, was poised to ramp up capacity to become Boston's second mass vaccination site.
Retail pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens are expected to administer an additional 20,000 doses next week.
The governor is due to testify before the Legislature's COVID-19 and Emergency Management and Preparedness Committee on Thursday at an oversight hearing probing the state's beleaguered vaccine rollout.
Lawmakers continue to raise questions about the state's technology, the lack of ability to preregister for a shot and the decision to stop distributing vaccine to local clinics in favor of high-capacity vaccination sites.