DC council member wants emergency hearing over vaccination website tech issues

A nurse fills a syringe with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at a health care center in Seoul Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. South Korea on Friday administered its first available shots of coronavirus vaccines to people at long-term care facilities, launching a mass immunization campaign that health authorities hope will restore some level of normalcy by the end of the year. (Jung Yeon-je /Pool Photo via AP)(AP/Jung Yeon-je)

After tech issues have challenged D.C. residents attempting to make COVID-19 vaccine appointments, a council member is calling for a review of what happened as the city gears up for the next group of available appointments.

The D.C. Department of Health made 3,500 appointments available Saturday, but for the third consecutive day, tech issues made registering difficult for some and impossible for others.

“If individuals cannot schedule an appointment, and this is one of the main ways that we’re able to do that, that’s a problem,” said at-large council member Christina Henderson.

She has requested that the Committee on Health and the Committee on Government Operations hold emergency oversight hearings with D.C. Health and the Office of the Chief Technology Officer for a thorough review of what happened.

“We cannot afford for that website to fail two weeks in a row,” Henderson said. “It’s important for us to get this right.”

Henderson also asked for information from the Office of Contracting and Procurement regarding the contract for the registration portal.

She has been pushing for a second website to be built so that residents can preregister for appointments and make the process smoother for all involved.

In addition to the contract party details, she wants to know how much money was spent.

“I think residents deserve to know how much we’re spending on this, how much we spent on the first website, how much we’re spending on this second one,” Henderson said.

She said it’s crucial that the website works on Thursday, when additional appointments will become available.

“What are the fixes? And what are the assurances that we can provide to residents that this will not happen again?”

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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