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Public accessed vaccine appointments before they were ready, IG says

The state-run vaccination site at SUNY Potsdam was one of the places where people made...
The state-run vaccination site at SUNY Potsdam was one of the places where people made appointments prematurely, according to an inspector general report.(WWNY)
Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 12:13 PM EDT
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ALBANY, New York (WWNY) - The state’s inspector general says mistakes in the rollout of vaccines earlier this year allowed the public to make appointments before they were supposed to.

Acting Inspector General Robyn Adair said in a report released Thursday that 28,000 appointments were made -- and had to be canceled -- before the state’s vaccine scheduling website was officially launched.

This is relevant now, Adair said, because the state is preparing to roll out COVIC-19 booster shots and vaccines for children 5-11.

She said there’s no evidence the sites were hacked or that state employees leaked them to the public.

The public gained access prematurely, she said, through a series or errors and inadequate site testing.

In some cases, the way the site was designed allowed it to go live once a vaccination event was scheduled. Sometimes, the public gained access to training sites and signed up for appointments that didn’t exist.

Another big factor, she said, was social media. It took seconds for someone to copy and paste a link to a site and send it out in a text message, media post, or email. In some cases, counties, school districts, union leaders, and religious communities distributed premature links through mass emails.

Adair said her investigation found that people were unaware they were prematurely using website links or that they were bypassing the online tool that screened for vaccine eligibility.

And once live, she said, the system struggled to manage the high demand.

Adair said state officials have been improving the system and have made more than 100 improvements to the vaccine scheduling application, including security improvements, stronger firewalls, and a virtual waiting room to manage large online queues.

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