‘Our system for scheduling failed’: Salt Lake County 70+ experience vaccination registration delays

Coronavirus Updates

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) — Vaccine distribution throughout Utah has gone slower than originally planned. In Utah Governor Spencer Cox’s latest executive order he announced high-risk Utahns 70 and older would be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccines beginning January 18.

According to the Salt Lake County Health Department, Utahns 70 and older, can make an appointment for January 19 through 23 starting January 13 at 8 a.m.

Nicholas Rupp, spokesman for the Salt Lake County Health Department, tells ABC4 News vaccine registration will be made available on a first-come, first-serve basis, online and on the phone for older Utahns who aren’t as conformable or familiar with the internet.

Wednesday morning, when Salt Lake County residents attempted to register online, many experienced glitches and error notifications.

According to the health department, at 8:00 a.m., tens of thousands of residents simultaneously attempted to load the Salt Lake County Health Department’s COVID-19 vaccination registration form; it could not handle that volume. After working quickly with the system programmer, the form was up and making reservations before 9:00 a.m.

Rupp says as of 10:00 a.m. Wednesday 15,042 individuals had successfully registered for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson took to social media saying “We recognize our system for scheduling failed and are working to address. We apologize. Please stand by.”

“We are very sorry for this problem. The health department estimates there are approximately 70,000 Salt Lake County residents 70 and over. The health department has 30,000 appointments available through February 27. That number of appointments is based on the number of doses we have been told we can expect to receive,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson.

“We appreciate your patience. The health department will continue to work with the system programmer to prevent any such problems in the future,” Rupp adds.

Wednesday night, Salt Lake County Health Department health officials shared news of accidentally sending cancellation notices to people scheduled for several vaccination events in late February.

Officials say the notifications are errors and that no scheduled events have been canceled. “People who received the erroneous notice will receive a correction if they have not already,” the health department shared. “We apologize profusely. The challenging morning today was caused by a technology problem with our scheduling vendor, but this evening’s mistake was human error.”

According to the Salt Lake County Health Department website, those who are able to successfully register to get a vaccine will be vaccinated at a walk-in vaccination clinic at the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy.

The health department asks those trying to register to “Please be patient while the form loads; our server is experiencing an extremely high volume of traffic and it may take significant time for all fields, particularly the “Select Visit Date” field, to be available.”

Those registering should receive a confirmation email and text message that could take 30-60 minutes to arrive.

Rupp says the exact number of doses the department will receive is unknown and likely to be irregular in the near future. He said additional appointments will be made available as they get more vaccine doses.

Utah’s residence 70 and older living in Salt Lake County can call 385-465-SHOT (7468) or visit Salt Lake County’s COVID-19 Information page. Rupp says those who prefer calling should prepare for long wait times.

Read more about first-come, first-serve vaccine distribution for older Utahns beginning Jan. 18, 2021.

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