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APH vaccine scheduler stays down after Monday system crash
(Christa McWhirter)

Staff prepare vaccine doses at the Delco Activity Center in Northeast Austin on Saturday.

Austin Public Health plans to have its COVID-19 vaccine appointment scheduling system back up and running by Thursday evening after the department shut down the system late Monday due to technical issues.

Due to the delays, APH tweeted that it will likely need to add an additional day of appointment scheduling outside of its typical release schedule, with appointments dropping on Monday and Thursday evenings.

The technical issues emerged during the Monday evening release period, when APH had 6,000 appointments available for scheduling. "After working with our vendor for multiple hours, it appears there is no immediate fix we can make," the department tweeted. "Unfortunately this means we must end scheduling." As a result, only 2,300 appointments were scheduled at the time, according to a statement issued by the city.

APH provided an update on Tuesday, tweeting that it had identified the issue and was working with its vendor, Salesforce, to get the program up and running in time for the regularly scheduled Thursday release. However, due to the issues, APH does not know who was in the queue on Monday when the issues arose; the department is working to identify those individuals to schedule appointments, a spokesperson told Austonia.

Remaining appointment slots for Friday and Saturday are still scheduled to be released Thursday evening.

APH's scheduling system has been mired by technical glitches since its debut in mid-January. City staff have worked with the Salesforce team to work on improvements, including a new queuing system, but users continue to report issues—and frustration— with the rollout.

Tara Morales commented on a recent APH Facebook update about her experience. "I've been helping my entire family through the process and feel awful that I sent them the rundown for them only to waste their time," she wrote late Tuesday evening. "I'm getting really tired of spending ALL EVENING Mondays and Thursdays to be so disappointed."

She wasn't alone. "And everyone that waited 6 hours in line only to be booted has to go to the back of the line and try again?!" Brandon Bosserman commented. "Talk about a massive fail. Your should be ashamed. Everyone done it better."

Others wrote that they had had better experiences with local providers such as the University of Texas at Austin, Williamson County and CVS.

"After 3 times waiting hours on APH site and getting no where I went on UT site Monday morning, scheduled appointments for Tuesday afternoon," Chris Thompson commented. "An hour plus to wander through the cue, second dose scheduled at the same time."

In addition to the tech issues, APH continues to face demand that far outstrips its supply of available vaccine doses. Since being designated a hub provider by the state in January, the department has received 12,000 initial doses each week. More than 200,000 people are registered on APH's waitlist who qualify for a vaccine under groups 1A and 1B or as an educator—and are still waiting for an appointment, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott told Austonia on Saturday.

State officials also recently expanded eligibility to include residents ages 50 to 64 under group 1C, which APH estimates will add an additional 200,000 or so people on its waitlist to the priority population. "There's not enough vaccine to go around right at the moment," he said.

Although APH did not make appointments available to those in group 1C on Monday, the department is working to make modifications to its scheduling system to allow it to prioritize registrants in that category, according to a statement issued Saturday.

Read more on APH glitches here:

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