NYC streamlines website for making vaccination appointments

Posted On Wed, February 17, 2021 By

Posted On Wed, February 17, 2021 By In Policy

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

In a press conference this morning, Mayor de Blasio announced an overhaul of the city’s COVID vaccine scheduling portal “Vax4NYC.” The site will now be more streamlined and available in 10 languages. The announcement comes after New Yorkers with preexisting conditions became eligible to make vaccine appointments on February 14. Unsurprisingly, the state and city websites became overwhelmed, and once more than 250,000 people made appointments on Sunday alone, Governor Cuomo reported that all but four of the state’s vaccination hubs were booked through mid-April.

Prior to this week, vaccine appointments were available to roughly 7 million New Yorkers in groups 1A (healthcare workers and nursing home residents/staff) and 1B (education workers, first responders, public safety workers, public transit workers, public-facing grocery store workers, and New Yorkers 65+). The newest group brought the total to 10 million, about half of the state’s total population. About 4.5 million of these people are New York City residents.

Sunday’s 250,924 appointments made was the state’s largest single-day registration total since vaccinations began on December 14th. This was about 10,000 appointments per hour. “We’re seeing the system work—more New Yorkers are finding out if they’re eligible, making appointments and getting vaccinated. But we need more supply from the federal government to push our vaccination effort into overdrive,” said Governor Cuomo in a statement. To that end, all but four of the state-run mass vaccination sites are booked through April 16. As of Tuesday afternoon, the exceptions were:

  • New York State Fair – Booked through March 16
  • SUNY Potsdam – Booked through April 1
  • Rochester Dome – Booked through April 4
  • SUNY Stony Brook – Booked through April 13

Though the governor touted the success of the state’s scheduling website, New Yorkers on Twitter experienced something different. As Gothamist explains, “Some found blank questions on the registration forms, while others were stopped by server issues. Some residents in New York City were offered appointments five hours away, upstate in Potsdam.”

Mayor de Blasio’s updated website will, of course, only help those who reside in New York City, but it’s a step in the right direction. It will be available in the 10 most prevalent languages found in the city, and will now include all vaccine distributors that are partnering with the city, including Northwell Health, the Hospital for Special Surgery, and Capsule Pharmacy.

The city’s other website, Vaccine Finder, lists all providers, but takes you to their respective websites, meaning you must fill out multiple registration forms. The revamped Vax4NYC website, however, will still not include private hospitals and pharmacies. Therefore, the mayor encouraged all vaccine providers to join the city’s appointment system. According to the Post, the city is in talks with Somos, the nonprofit that runs the Yankee Stadium vaccine site, to bring them to the website. Additionally, officials told the Post that the three mass vaccine sites run by the Health + Hospitals system–the Bathgate Industrial Complex in The Bronx, CitiField in Queens, and the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park–will be added to the new system in the near future.

The mayor said the new site will get people signed up for an appointment in three to four minutes when available. It’s also supposed to be able to withstand a higher influx of traffic without crashing.

At the time of this story’s publication, the New York City Council was holding a hearing on new legislation that will mandate the creation of a single, simple, multilingual scheduling website. Councilmember Mark D. Levine, Chair of the Health Committee, said in a Tweet that the goal is to make it “easier to schedule, more accessible to seniors, and more equitable for communities of color.”

As of today, 1,365,956 total vaccine doses have been administered in New York City, more than the total population of Dallas, Texas. However, Mayor de Blasio said that the city has fewer than 28,815 first vaccine doses left on hand and might run out today. And due to winter storms around the country, shipments are expected to be delayed. In a Tweet, mayoral press secretary Bill Neidhart said that this will cause the city to delay scheduling tens of thousands of appointments.

The city has a goal to vaccinate 5 million NYC residents by June, which would require an allotment of at least 250,000 doses per week from the federal government. “[This] means we are really turning the corner on this disease, and we can bring back our economy and our life strong,” said the mayor.

You can visit Vax4NYC here >>

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