Forwarded links creating more confusion, frustration in vaccine rollout

Posted at 2:02 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 18:14:49-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Forwarded links are creating more confusion and frustration in the vaccine rollout in Virginia.

183 people with the same last name signed-up for appointments at the Virginia Beach Convention Center on Tuesday, but only two had legitimate appointments, according to a spokesperson for vaccine operations. The group was turned away, leading to confusion and frustration.

VDH is working on a fix to the glitch, but right now anyone can sign-up for a vaccine appointment using a forwarded link and receive a confirmation email. When they show up for their appointment, they are being turned away because their appointments aren't legitimate. VDH is telling people not to forward links or sign-up for appointments with these links.

"Each vaccine is attached to one person," said Dr. Demetria Lindsay, the director of the Norfolk and Virginia Beach Health Districts. Only people who originally receive emails to create appointments will get doses, said Lindsay.

Currently when someone is selected to receive a vaccine, they'll receive an email with a link to create an appointment. The emails say not to forward the links, but some people still are to their friends, family, coworkers, or others.

Under the current system, people can use a forwarded link to create an appointment for themselves, but their name won't appear on the list to actually receive a vaccine.

A similar issue happened last week in Norfolk, when hundreds of people were turned away from getting a vaccine.

Health officials say they are following an order when dolling out the vaccines, so while vaccine supply remains lower than demand, people need to be patient. "We really ask that people be patient and we’ll try to get to them as soon as possible," said Lindsay.

VDH hopes to have a fix to the system by next week. That way links can't be shared to create vaccine appointments and the link will be unique to the original receiver.

In addition, the new vaccine program being offered by CVS also led to confusion this week. The pharmacy will begin using 26,000 doses to vaccinate people this week, but there has been confusion about when and who can sign-up.

CVS says all of the first appointments are booked, but beginning Thursday people over 65 can check their site for new appointments. People will be scheduled as more doses are received or if people cancel, a company spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added they "regret any confusion."

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