Try, try again: DC vaccination website working after morning tech issue

The D.C. Department of Health made 3,500 appointments for vaccination against COVID-19 available at 9 a.m. Saturday but the website crashed shortly after they were supposed to be available.

The technical issues follow two consecutive days of issues, leading to residents having trouble registering for coronavirus vaccination appointments online.

District residents, ages 18 through 64 with qualifying medical conditions who live in the ZIP codes of 20422, 20011, 20017, 20018, 20002, 20001, 20019, 20020, 20032 and 20593 are eligible to make the appointments, according to D.C. Council member Elissa Silverman.

“I am told that these are appointments for vaccination doses that will be in next week’s allocation,” Silverman said in an email.

But on Saturday morning those registering for appointments were still having trouble.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said around 9:30 a.m. that it was a server issue and that those who had trouble registering should try again.

One D.C. resident said that it took 30 minutes to access the vaccine site and only four sites were available within 100 miles of his home. He said he was unable to register despite meeting all of the eligibility requirements.

Several people trying to schedule appointments expressed their frustrations on social media Saturday morning, with one person saying they hit “confirm appointment” at 9 a.m. and the website crashed before the confirmation screen could load.

Residents became frustrated Thursday when the registration site crashed, and a similar situation developed on Friday.

“The online registration system was not updated completely for the expansion to residents ages 18 to 64 with qualifying medical conditions. And the system was not checked by either our contractor, Microsoft, or by D.C. government to make sure it worked properly before it became live at 9 a.m.,” Silverman said of Thursday’s incident, which she called a “snafu.”


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Starting at 9 a.m. Friday, all city residents ages 18 and over with “qualifying medical conditions” attempted to schedule appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine by going online to vaccinate.dc.gov or by calling 855-363-0333. According to Silverman, 4,350 appointments were to be available, but expected to be snapped up quickly, usually within the first half hour.

Unfortunately, website issues cropped up right away. At 9 a.m., when residents were supposed to be able to register for more than 4,300 available doses, many were once again hindered by problems on D.C. Health’s website.

D.C. Councilmember Vincent Gray says he plans to hold the Bowser Administration responsible for the botched rollout.

The medical conditions that qualify are below.

  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other chronic lung disease
  • Bone marrow and solid organ transplantation
  • Cancer
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
  • HIV
  • Hypertension
  • Immunocompromised state
  • Inherited metabolic disorders
  • Intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • Liver disease
  • Neurologic conditions
  • Obesity, BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2
  • Pregnancy
  • Severe genetic disorders
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Thalassemia

WTOP’s Valerie Bonk, Will Vitka and Zeke Hartner contributed to this report.

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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