Saturday, January 30, 2021

The real story on Covid19 vaccinations in Somerset County

Following up on an IPBiz post on January 28, 2021 of the bizarre behavior of the State of New Jersey Covid website telling Somerset County residents that they were not Somerset County residents (Covid in Somerset County )
[See also entry by Wan-Ling Tuan at which states -- I am registered and received notification to book my vaccine. I found available site today. But system error keep complaining I am not Somerset county residence, The state help line - there is no help - only replay the system messages, no live person --]

one is a bit surprised to see the cover article in the January 29, 2021 issue of Courier News by one Mike Deak suggesting the problems are with Somerset County residents who don't understand the registration system and that the problem is just a supply issue. Blaming the customer is never a good approach in business, and, here, these statements are not true. [See scan of Courier News article below]

Apart from the silliness of denying Somerset County residents appointments because they are not Somerset County residents, there have been other issues.

Alexis Tarrazi of the Patch reported on January 29, 2021: A statewide error in the state's COVID vaccination pre-registration and scheduling system is causing double bookings and other issues. Alexis stated: Donna Leusner, a spokeswoman with the Department of Health, said the state "worked with our vendor overnight to address it. We continue to monitor the system. We regret the confusion this technical issue caused."

Karen Price Mueller of had an extensive post about the situation in Gloucester County:

Gloucester County officials said a problem with the state’s vaccine registration system caused double bookings for appointments to get the COVID vaccine on Thursday. The county said the New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System (NJVSS) “glitched” around 10 a.m. on Thursday. The result was a cancellation of appointments for the afternoon session, flooding the state’s system with seemingly open appointments that residents claimed, the county said. People who had booked earlier received emails about the cancelations or found as they tried to use their state-provided QR codes that they “had been rendered useless,” the county said. “This then allowed open appointments to be filled with new individuals through NJVSS. Therefore, creating a double booking of appointments.” “Now for every one one vaccine we have, we have two individuals with appointments,” the county said. “The Gloucester County Mega Site is now dealing with yet another catastrophe we did not create.” But, no one was turned away and the mega-site was able to accommodate the double-bookings, said Chad Bruner, the Gloucester County administrator. Bruner said those who came in for morning appointments had no issues, but when the site reopened for its afternoon session, it was clear something had happened with the state’s registration system. The site had been scheduled to give about 600 doses in the afternoon, he said, but it may have given more than 1,000 by the time the session ended because of the double-bookings. “We’re not telling them to go home,” he said. “It’s not the right thing to do. We have the supply.” Bruner said by using the appropriate needles, administrators have been able to draw more than five doses per vaccine bottle. “Sometimes even up to seven,” he said. Bruner said he wasn’t sure if the system would have problems for Friday’s scheduled doses, and the Department of Health didn’t immediately respond to inquiries about the problems. But two people reported to NJ Advance Media on Thursday evening that they had booked last minute appointments for Friday, but around an hour later, they received emails saying the bookings were canceled. Bruner said people who were not originally scheduled for Friday and received cancellations should probably stay home if they could afford to wait, but “if they have documentation (about the appointments) we probably won’t turn them away.” “I’m not going to penalize anyone if it wasn’t their fault,” he said. The Department of Health didn’t immediately respond to questions about the reported scheduling glitch.

See also a January 22, 2021 story by the Philadelphia Inquirer at

The Somerset County Covid website no longer mentions the software scheduling problem, but does say this:

All COVID-19 vaccination appointments will be scheduled at The Somerset County Department of Health is working in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New Jersey Department of Health, and other federal, state, and local partners in planning for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. For more information on COVID-19 vaccination, please click here. Register for the COVID-19 Vaccine Everyone interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is asked to pre-register in the state’s vaccination registration portal at: Registered individuals will receive a follow-up email when they can make an appointment. It is important to note: As demand and supply of vaccine changes, this information is subject to change. Please check back often for the most up-to-date information.


See also article in NJ Spotlight at including text: Regardless of how much of the vaccine is getting to New Jersey, members of the public have complained about the lack of access to immunization sites, directing much of their anger at the state’s online registration program, the New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System. Residents were encouraged to sign up through the portal, but many found it nearly impossible to secure an appointment through the system.
That’s because less than 5% of the vaccine sites open to the general public — or nine of 205 — are connected to the state registration database, according to state records. Most locations are instead requiring people to sign up through existing corporate websites or new links created for the purpose.
Murphy and state Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli declined to say why the state did not opt for a unified system from the start when asked at Wednesday’s media briefing or offer details on what is being done to improve the operation. Instead, they underscored the challenges that come with building a new infrastructure to handle an unprecedented task.

The Courier News story of January 29, 2021:


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