'It Just Died On Me': Massachusetts COVID-19 Vaccination Website Crashes

The state’s website went online for a million additional people in Massachusetts who just became newly eligible for the COVID vaccine. WBZ-TV's Christina Hager reports.

Video Transcript

- To the delays and challenges as roughly a million residents tried to sign up for the coronavirus vaccine online. Enrollment opened this morning to residents 65 and older.

- Yeah, but the system crashed even before the appointments went live at 8:00 AM. And plenty were frustrated and they emailed us. Neil wrote, "I've been trying to book my wife for an appointment for four hours and each time their site crashes."

- And Karen, who works in IT, noted the slow registration process causes more people to try over and over, which will cause the system to overload and crash more often. WBZ's Christina Hager shows us how the state is responding.

CHRISTINA HAGER: A question mark and an octopus was on the screen that came up as some of the one million newly eligible people in Massachusetts tried to get an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination.

LEONARD KURLAND: It just died on me.

CHRISTINA HAGER: So 71-year-old Leonard Kurland turned to the state's appointment hotline.

LEONARD KURLAND: They said, you're in the queue, we'll call you-- we're busy, we'll call you back. And they haven't called me back.

CHRISTINA HAGER: He's not alone.

- You know, it already crashed.

JERRY LANSON: I feel like I've done virtually everything I possibly could within the rules to get a vaccination and it's just not possible.

CHRISTINA HAGER: In a statement, the state's COVID command center said, "due to extremely high traffic and value, the VaxFinder tool and vaccine location websites are experiencing delays and technical difficulties." Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel.

MONICA BHAREL: Any issues with the website, we're constantly checking it and monitoring it and will address them.

CHRISTINA HAGER: Governor Charlie Baker on WGBH radio.

CHARLIE BAKER: And I, you know-- my hair's on fire about the whole thing. I can't even begin to tell you how pissed off I am.

CHRISTINA HAGER: Cyber expert Peter Tran says there are ways to prevent such a crash.

PETER TRAN: To scale the site to multiple redundancy points-- so just backups on backups-- to be able to handle the flow and offload those to backup sites.

CHRISTINA HAGER: State officials say their people have been working on this all day. At last check, we were able to get on to the VaxFinder, but when it took us to specific locations, some of them are still shutting down. At Gillette Stadium, Christina Hager. WBZ News.

- Christina, thank you.