NYC Monkeypox Vaccine Website Crashes (Again) During Launch, Leaving Many Without Appointments

At 12:55 p.m., Kevin Heard was refreshing the New York City Health Department monkeypox website, waiting for a link to the Affiliate Physicians webpage to appear. This would allow her to schedule a vaccination appointment.

At 1:02 p.m., he saw his first error message.

“Immediately, the first thing was, ‘Service is unavailable,'” Heard, 32, told Gothamist. “It was incredibly frustrating.”

Heard, who has some experience in web design, opened Google Chrome’s “Developer Tools” window and spent the next hour and a half refreshing the page. He was finally able to make vaccination appointments for himself and his partner.

But countless other New Yorkers weren’t so lucky. At 1:29 p.m., the city’s health department announced that the website was down, citing a “high level of traffic”. The department had planned to release around 2,500 injections on Tuesday, the last of a shipment of 6,000 doses delivered last week.

Three vaccine applicants interviewed by Gothamist all said they were asked to use a single set of credentials to log into the website. The stack caused the webpage to freeze several times, preventing many people from getting a vaccine they desperately wanted.

“Due to overwhelming traffic, as soon as appointments went live this afternoon, the site sent error messages to many people who were unable to book appointments” reads a statement from the department shared by spokesperson Michael Lanza. “This is just further proof that the demand is very high, and we will continue to work to make the vaccine available.”

The website is operated by Affiliated Physicians, which offers on-site vaccination clinics and business health assessments. The city chose the company to replace MedRite, a line of walk-in clinics whose website crushed when vaccination appointments were initially made available last week. At the end of June, the city tried to give vaccines through a mix of walk-ins and walk-ins, but was quickly overwhelmed by demand.

“From a technical standpoint, that’s definitely not best practice,” said Cody Dean, 30, who runs a technology consulting firm. He also noted that being self-employed gave him the time and freedom to spend an afternoon refreshing the page — a luxury other New Yorkers might not be able to afford.

“I own a tech company and I’ve always failed,” Dean said. “They don’t distribute this fairly.”

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