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DC vaccine sign-ups plagued with technical problems

DC vaccine sign-ups plagued with technical problems
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COVID-19 vaccination sign-ups in Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning ran into technical problems, causing frustration for people trying to secure appointments on the first day of eligibility for people under 65 with underlying conditions. 

The city made appointments available on Thursday for the first time for people 18 and older who have a range of underlying conditions that put them at higher risk from COVID-19, and live in priority zip codes.

But residents reported frustrating delays in getting through online. Even when some people got through, they reported getting messages that they were not eligible, even though they were. 

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The message some received appeared not to be updated to reflect the new eligibility for people with underlying conditions, saying that vaccinations were only for those over 65 or people in certain occupations. 

The Washington, D.C., health department acknowledged the frustration, and said it is working to figure out what went wrong. 

“The online appointments that were made available today are now booked,” D.C. Health said on Twitter. “We know this morning was very frustrating for many people. We are working with Microsoft to understand why heavy traffic caused some eligible individuals to not get through.”

Vince Gray, a D.C. council member and former mayor, called the problems “unacceptable.”

“I am abundantly concerned about how this impacted everyone trying to sign-up for a vaccination appointment,” he tweeted, saying he had spoken to LaQuandra Nesbitt, the director of D.C.’s health department, who was meeting with IT officials. 

“There are ongoing questions about whether the error messages people received were due to high user volume or system flaws,” Gray wrote. 

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D.C. is not the only place to experience technical difficulties as vaccination eligibility expands. Massachusetts, for example, had its website crash last week as people 65 and over became eligible. 

In D.C., all of Thursday’s slots are now filled. Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserPence pleaded with military officials to 'clear the Capitol' on Jan. 6: AP The Hill's Morning Report - Biden, McConnell agree on vaccines, clash over infrastructure Washington, D.C. to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to those ages 16 and older MORE said another 4,350 appointments will be available Friday at 9 a.m.