SALT LAKE CITY — Some residents eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine experienced trouble accessing the Salt Lake County Health Department's online registration form Wednesday morning after tens of thousands of people simultaneously logged on and caused the system to crash.
The department also tweeted that late Wednesday it had "accidentally sent a cancellation notice to people scheduled for several vaccination events in late February" but that no events had actually been canceled. People who received the erroneous message will receive a correction.
"We apologize profusely," officials said. "The challenging morning today was caused by a technology problem with our scheduling vendor, but this evening's mistake was human error. It has been a difficult day for our staff and for you, the people we serve, and we appreciate your patience and forgiveness."
The registration link went live Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. The county had previously requested all who are able to sign up online do so to save phone lines for those without an internet connection. Shortly after the link went live, Mayor Jenny Wilson acknowledged the issue and said officials were working to fix it.
"We recognize our system for scheduling failed and are working to address," she tweeted at 8:17 a.m. "We apologize. Please stand by."
The system could not handle the extreme volume of traffic, said Sale Lake County Health Department Spokesperson Nicholas Rupp. The form was up and running before 9 a.m., after officials worked with the system programmer to solve the issue.
Currently, vaccine registration is available to Utahns who are age 70 and older and health care workers. School staff in the county go through the school district to get vaccinated.
Some users on social media reported issues accessing the "select visit date" box on the form.
"Please be patient while the form loads; our server is experiencing an extremely high volume of traffic and it may take significant time for all fields, particularly the "Select Visit Date" field, to be available," the health department's website reads.
Late this evening, we accidentally sent a cancellation notice to people scheduled for several vaccination events in late February. This notice was an error; NO SCHEDULED EVENTS HAVE BEEN CANCELLED.— Salt Lake Health (@SaltLakeHealth) January 14, 2021
As of 10 a.m., 15,042 individuals had successfully registered for a vaccination appointment, according to Rupp. If users cannot access the form, the health department advised they try again at a later time.
"We are very sorry for this problem," Wilson said in a statement.
Health department officials estimate there are about 70,000 Salt Lake County residents aged 70 and older but there are only 30,000 appointments available through Feb. 27, with the number of appointments based on how many doses the department will receive. Appointments will not be scheduled for doses the department doesn't have.
"We appreciate your patience," Wilson said. "The health department will continue to work with the system programmer to prevent any such problems in the future."