When the City of San Antonio’s Covid-19 vaccination registration site went live at 9 a.m. on Saturday, the 9,000 available slots filled up in six minutes. In Michigan, more than 20,000 people tried to enter a health system’s portal for Covid vaccinations at the same time, crippling the system.
As states try to scale up vaccine rollouts that have been marred with confusion and errors, the online registration sites — operated by a welter of agencies and using a range of technologies — are crucial. But the problems they are experiencing reveal yet another challenge to getting Americans inoculated: There are many, many more people who want to be vaccinated than there are opportunities to get the shot.
“The registration system worked as designed, but there is far greater demand than available supply at this time,” Dr. Colleen Bridger, an assistant city manager, said in a statement. “When we receive more doses from the State of Texas, we will have more appointments available in the coming days and weeks, and we will keep the public informed about registration opportunities.”
Michigan’s largest health care system, Beaumont Health, had problems with its website on Friday, said Hans Keil, the system’s chief information officer. Beaumont Health, which operates several hospitals in the Metro Detroit area, had recently announced plans to offer residents 65 and older vaccinations, and about 25,000 people tried to gain access to the online portal simultaneously, Mr. Keil said. The portal didn’t crash, but many users couldn’t enter.
“We’re really having to rethink how we have to do our capacity planning,” Mr. Keil said.
On Thursday, Miami-Dade County introduced an online registration tool for appointments. County officials had said they would have a limited number of slots for people 65 and older. The available slots were filled in 20 minutes, said Luisana Pérez Fernández, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office.
In Georgia, officials tried to roll out vaccines to individuals 65 and older, beginning Monday in DeKalb County. On Thursday, the DeKalb County Board of Health website was experiencing “latency issues” as individuals signed up for the shot.
High demand was apparent offline as well.
In Montgomery County, Tenn., more than 1,000 appointments were scheduled on Tuesday via a phone system before the lines crashed in the afternoon, officials said. On Wednesday, a new website and phone number were added to help handle the load.
Even in states where online registration seemed to go well, some people were stuck with long waits.
In Indiana, more than 21,000 people 65 and older signed up for appointments in the first 90 minutes that registration was open on Friday, and a total of 35,000 people had signed up by an hour later. Officials from the state’s Department of Health said that some 200 people experienced delays.
“Individuals may encounter wait times due to a high volume of interest,” a statement from the department said. “The registration system was designed to put visitors into a holding queue when volume is high.”