IG report: 28k appointments made before New York’s vaccination scheduling website went live

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A National Guardsman waits at the main entrance to great patients at a COVID-19 vaccination site inside the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, in Manhattan. (John Minchillo/AP)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- New York wasn’t the only state that had problems with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines at the beginning of the year. Multiple states experienced problems that included having to cancel appointments, overburdened servers, and supply shortages, according to a report from the New York State Inspector General (IG).

The IG’s most significant finding in New York pertains to residents who had gotten early access to the Department of Health’s (DOH) COVID vaccine scheduling site, bypassing the eligibility questionnaire. This led to the canceling of more than 28,000 appointments, the majority of which (approximately 20,000) were scheduled at the SUNY Stony Brook vaccination site.

People gained access to the DOH site more than 24 hours before it was set to go live, the IG said, making it clear that New York was not alone in this issue. They said California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island as well as many others had similar problems.

“The Inspector General found that State website administrators prematurely and unintentionally made links accessible to State-operated vaccination scheduling websites causing appointments to become available for booking before the site was supposed to begin taking reservations,” the report said.

They relieved state employees of any malfeasance, determining the scheduling links weren’t shared with the public by New York State employees or contractors who had access before the site went live. The IG also determined the DOH’s site had not been attacked or compromised by cybercriminals.

The IG commended the DOH, Office of Information Technology Services (ITS), and Health Research Incorporated (HRI) for their work to rectify the problems and continual efforts to keep the site working effectively:

Notably, the Inspector General found that staff of ITS, DOH, and HRI worked ceaselessly and competently during the activation of DOH’s COVID-19 vaccine scheduling websites to respond to the unprecedented demand for vaccination appointments and quickly implemented corrective actions when issues were discovered. The deficiencies found in this investigation do not undermine this exceptional response.

Inspector General

Check out the IG’s entire report below.

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