Approximately 50,000 new appointments to get the coronavirus vaccine at mass vaccination sites in Massachusetts were set to go live Thursday morning, but the process quickly led to more headaches.
Tens of thousands of people quickly queued up in a "digital waiting room," a new feature intended to prevent potential outages after Massachusetts' Vaxfinder site crashed last week due to high demand.
Some residents said the experience was no better than last Thursday, when the entire site crashed when 1 million people age 65 and older became eligible for the vaccine.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
The new digital waiting room did allow people to see their place in line and wait times – but many tell us it seemed inconsistent at best.
“It would go down to 23 [minutes] and then it would go back up to 35 and it just kept bouncing around, and then one time I looked down and it was like 1,855 minutes, and I went, ‘What?!’”
It wasn’t uncommon for people to be told they would have to wait more than five to six thousand minutes – that’s about four days! And some people say they watched as the line or people ahead of them grew to more than 100,000 – with only 50,000 appointments available.
"This morning's experience is just as bad as the previous week," said resident Betty Davis in an email. "Disgusted."
"I was in the Vax appointment 'waiting Room' with only 4,132 people in front of me this morning," Davis explained. "I checked throughout the night and got in line at 7:10. Within a few minutes where were over 48,000 people in line. When it was 'my turn' at about 7:15 I tired to make an appointment quickly. I was able to identify a supposed 'available slot' and started the process and within 10-15 seconds after I gave my cell # to receive the 'code' I received a message that 'the appointment was no longer available,' despite my receiving a code at least 10 different times."
"New waiting room almost as frustrating as site crashing!" added resident Colleen O'Brien. "I went into sites with availability and I was told I had 1 minute and by the time I entered information appointment was gone. This happened 3 times and then I got a message that I now was in line for MA COVID-19 Vaccination Appointment Sign-ups with more than an hour wait, 95,969 people in line ahead of me with more than an hour EST to get on website! How is this better?"
It wasn’t uncommon for people to be told they would have to wait more than 5-6,000 minutes – that’s about four days!
"I was allowed to get into the waiting room around 7:40 a.m. when I saw one available appointment at Gillette Stadium," resident Young Kim said. "The wait time was eight minutes but jumped to 47 min as 8 a.m. approached, and then went down to six minutes. Soon after eight, I was allowed to find an available slot. I didn't find any so I selected 'search again.' It took me back to the search page but there was no option to say 'display only sites with available appointments.' So, I had to wade through all the sites until I found one with available slots. But when I went to that page, again there were no slots. After trying several times, the system put me back in the waiting queue! When you choose 'search again,' you should be able to see sites with available appointments!"
“Pathetic! New website is all over the place,” added Paul Surface.
“Went from 18 minutes to 1855 minutes. What a joke!” said Ann Marie Pruyn.
Others took to social media to express their frustration.
"Got in the wait line at 7:40 am and was told wait was 1 hr. Here I am now at 8:42 with a 5988 minute wait," said one person. "C'mon Massachusetts! Do better. At this point, the site should be warning me that I have no chance."
"Yeah good luck got in the system for Gillette. Over 500 appointments but none left once I was in. Kicked out now 8000 minute wait to get back in," said another.
One resident called the vaccine website rollout a failure. "Even after getting from the waiting room, and finding a day where there is almost 400 slots available for a particular day, the next screen shows there are 0 time slots available for said day."
You can see more reaction from residents below: