Minnesota vaccine pilot program launches with some glitches

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: January 19, 2021 06:34 PM
Created: January 19, 2021 05:52 PM

The Minnesota vaccine pilot program kicked off Tuesday afternoon but trying to register was a frustrating experience for many, with some encountering website and phone error messages.

The issues were due to the high volume of people attempting to register online or through the call center.

"Today at its peak, the registration process site was processing over 10,000 unique hits per second. The total traffic to the mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/ website was over 1.1 million traffic hits," said Tarek Tomes, the chief information officer for the State of Minnesota. "We're going to take all the lessons learned of how this initial pilot registration went and make sure we make this process much smoother and improve it."

Vaccinations will start on Thursday, including at a site in Mountain Iron. MDH said over 5,000 people registered for their first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine through the pilot program, totaling nearly 11,000 appointments booked.

For those who weren't able to register, MDH leaders remind people there is a very limited supply of the vaccine and for now ask people to be patient. MDH said they have allotted 12,000 doses of the vaccine for the pilot sites. Half will be for those who are 65 and older and half will be for teachers and childcare workers.

"If you can't make an appointment now you will be able to make one soon. Our hope is that as more vaccine becomes available we'll be able to spread out the number of sites and increase the number of sites," said Kris Ehresmann, the director of the infectious disease division for MDH.

Those put on the waitlist will be notified if they should visit a vaccination pilot site for their shot but the waitlist on the website now is only for this Thursday, so Minnesotans who are waitlisted but do not receive the vaccine this week will need to sign up again the following week.

Minnesota healthcare systems are also providing limited vaccine doses to patients who are 65 and older.

"Healthcare providers are developing systems to let their existing patients know when they can make an appointment for a vaccine. Providers will contact patients with this information," said Ehresmann.

Eligible Minnesotans are asked to try making the appointment online before dialing the call center. MDH said those who can't immediately make an appointment may be able to sign up for a waitlist. More appointments will be available next Tuesday at noon.

MDH also said educators and childcare providers work directly with their employer to receive instructions on how to secure a vaccination appointment and should not try to schedule an appointment online unless their employer has contacted them with information about that appointment.

MDH also reminds people the vaccine is available by appointment only, walk-ins won't be accepted.

You can register online or by calling 612-426-7230 or 833-431-2053.


Alejandra Palacios

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