Riverside County is changing its website, which records coronavirus vaccination appointments after dozens of complaints from residents that the site collapsed or failed to schedule a shot after filling out online forms.
The announcement came hours after a meeting window that began at noon on Thursday, Jan. 21, closed after just 32 minutes for six county-run clinics scheduled for the next few days in Paris, Lake Elsinore and Indio. Nearly 4,000 appointments were recorded, one for each available dose of vaccine. Last week, more than 11,000 meetings were completed in less than two hours on Friday, January 15.
A new link to the website will be announced soon, county officials said in a news release late Thursday afternoon.
For many, it was just a struggle to enter the county̵
“It was like trying to buy concert tickets with a crash on the site, constantly recharging, and then finally logging in just to fill in all your information to understand that all the commitments have been made,” Kathleen Orr wrote. A 49-year-old Riverside resident and 8th grade high school teacher who tried to get an appointment at noon.
She added: “I don’t know a single teacher who managed to get a meeting today when the new sites opened.”
Gary Daly, a 69-year-old man from Riverside, sought an appointment through the county’s website and also through the Albertsons pharmacy.
“I just like how the (county’s) website is set up, if you’re lucky enough to get on,” he said sarcastically in an email. “I like to fill out the forms many times until I get to the very end, where I’m actually making an appointment, only to find out that there aren’t any, or better yet, the website’s password is locked and you have to start over.”
In the statement, county officials accused that “a technical problem with the website code (which was discovered at the time)” opened the meeting window.
“Unfortunately, when many residents tried to visit the meeting website, they saw a waiting screen,” the statement said.
“Residents are understandably disappointed that the meeting website has not been launched today,” County Interim Executive Juan C. Perez said in a statement. “While we were working with our supplier to ensure that it would work today, unfortunately this was not the case. Honestly, this is unacceptable. We apologize for this unfortunate situation and will soon direct residents to a new website. “
Riverside County officials also reminded residents that there are other options outside the county, such as doctors, pharmacies and emergency clinics, but stressed that the demand for photos exceeds the supply.
In an email to voter Jeff Green, Riverside County Superintendent Kevin Jeffries’ chief of staff, part of the problem was Gavin Newsum’s announcement that the counties could start offering the vaccine to those aged 65 and over – “we have nowhere to go get enough vaccines to meet this need. “
“The previous plan with levels and phases had its disappointments and confusions, but at least it was designed to make smaller groups at the same time so that the system would not be overloaded,” Green wrote.
“We only had 3,900 doses available to the county this week, and those appointments disappeared within half an hour (Thursday), with the system completely collapsing for many / most / all unsuccessful applicants … The county purchased a significant additional bandwidth for this week, but the website provider apparently had other problems that contributed to the site’s crash. “
Another problem, Green writes, is the state website used to complete the registration.
“Our own website simply directs people to the state-run CALVAX.org system,” he wrote. “And not only is their platform crashing regularly, but they’re also responsible for a very frustrating process that doesn’t tell you there’s no space available until you’ve submitted all your information, unlike the private sector ticketing site, which contains your place while filling out the form.
County Riverside has no control over this and other counties see the same problem, he said.
San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert said users of the county’s vaccination website had problems when they clicked on a link that took them to the state’s website to fill out appointment information. Users often fill out pages with personal information only to find that no appointments are available, he said.
Wert added that the county is so frustrated that it is considering setting up its own online appointment booking system, although that would take considerable time and money.
Riverside County officials also said that when the meetings open on their new website, it will still lead to the state’s vaccine registration portal. If all meetings are booked upon completion of state registration, residents will not be able to schedule an appointment, the statement said.