More frustration as new batch of vaccine appointments is released

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The Rhode Island Department of Health released a new batch of vaccine appointments Tuesday morning.

Kathleen Santos of Warwick was one of thousands glued to her phone trying desperately to secure a spot.

“I don’t know what a better way would be, but this is not the way,” Santos said.

Santos is 56-years-old. She has an auto-immune disease that puts her at risk for COVID. She says this year has been tough on her and getting the shot means everything.

“I keep myself busy crocheting,” Santos said. “I really haven’t done anything. I haven’t gone out to dinner, to a drink.”

Santos says she spent over two hours on Friday evening trying to secure a spot with no luck.

“I got bumped out several times,” Santos said. “It would lock up, it would reload. Then fewer appointments would be available, or an appointment would be available and it would just bottom out on me.”

That was a problem seen across the state Friday and is why the Department of Health said they made changes to the website. Those changes would allow the site to manage more traffic without crashing. They also added messages clarifying that some slots that appear available may not be if someone is in the process of booking them.

Similar to Santos, people like Heather Ashworth encountered similar issues Tuesday.

“It’s frustrating,” Ashworth said. “I was really, really hopeful at the beginning and that dwindled down very quickly as I saw the numbers changing.”

Ashworth is a 40-year-old type one diabetic from Warwick. She was notified by the Department of Health on Friday that she is now eligible. She was unsuccessful the first time, so on Tuesday, she was ready at 9:00 a.m. on the dot.

“There were some appointments available this morning,” Ashworth said. “As soon as I clicked it, it took me to another screen and said there are no availabilities at this time.”

By 10:00 a.m., all 1,890 appointments were booked and both Santos and Ashworth were left without one.

“It was a very stressful time,” Ashworth said. “I’m thankful I have a job where I can do that and try again. But, it created more stress.”

The Department of Health says they have a very limited supply of first doses this week and that there will be more availability next week. Appointments at state-run sites and pharmacies are expected to increase from 10,000 to 23,000.

The Department of Health also says they are working on a “waiting room” that would help with the issue of appointments appearing available even though they may not be. They that would not be ready in time for Tuesday’s appointment release, but they are hoping to get it up and running as soon as possible.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Rhode Island, Warwick