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New York City’s online sign-up process for the COVID-19 vaccine is a confusing mess that must immediately be fixed, according to City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
Stringer blasted the system in a series of Twitter threads Sunday night — a day before the state’s vaccination eligibility opened up to those category 1B, which includes teachers, first responders, public safety workers, public transit workers and people 75 and older.
Those seeking to make an appointment to get vaccinated have to navigate one of three separate systems — one controlled by the city’s NYC Health + Hospitals and two by the city’s Health Department — none of which appear to work in coordination.
The city’s main Health Department site “is complex, burdensome, and buggy,” Stringer wrote in a tweet. “It will present an obstacle for too many people—particularly seniors—trying to sign up. This is a major problem.”
It “has a multi-step verification process just to set up an account, and then a six-step process to set up an appointment,” Stringer tweeted. “Along the way, there are as many as 51 questions or fields, in addition to uploading images of your insurance card.”
“All of this will be particularly challenging for populations that struggle with digital literacy and digital access—who have been hit hardest by this pandemic and who need the vaccine most,” wrote Stringer.
The NYC Health + Hospitals site “is more user-friendly, but both are buggy,” said Stringer.
Both DOH and H+H bring users to the same “vaccine finder” site that allows users to input their address or zip code to find a vaccination hub near them.
From there, a mix of public and private providers pop up for users to schedule an appointment to be inoculated, and the sign-up process varies for sites run by the city’s Health Department and Health + Hospitals.
Two of the systems are run by the city’s Health Department — one for the city DOH-run community clinics and the other for its newly-established vaccine hubs.
Each system requires users to fill in dozens of fields to create a new account and password in order to book an appointment.
Meanwhile, Health + Hospitals maintains its own system — the third.
“We should be #1 in vaccinations in the nation from day one—and we should be using every tool at our disposal to vaccinate as many New Yorkers as possible as quickly as possiblem,” Stringer railed.
“Instead we’ve set up a gauntlet that requires tech support.”
Stringer said that the city cannot “force” front line essential workers and the elderly “to confront a bewildering signup process.”
“Any barrier to getting shots in arms is only going to prolong the agony of this crisis,” he said. “The City must fix this now. There is nothing more important. Lives are on the line.”
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