NJ officials apologize for scheduling glitch that double-booked vaccine appointments

SEWELL, New Jersey (WPVI) -- New Jersey state health officials apologized Friday after a glitch in the vaccine scheduling system double-booked some appointments, resulting in a very long line at a vaccine mega site.

On Friday, people lined up at the Gloucester County vaccine mega site at Rowan College of South Jersey despite the cold.

"I don't know the words, it's magnificent how it's run," said Laura Thomas, of Egg Harbor Township.

But on Thursday, county officials said an error with the state's vaccine scheduling system caused a massive headache.

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"Whatever glitched at 10:30 a.m., whether they were doing an update or they were trying to fix some bugs out of it, it canceled people and other people jumped in their spots," said Gloucester County Administrator Chad Bruner.

He says hundreds of unexpected people showed up. Extra staff was brought in and they stayed late to vaccinate as many people as possible.

On Friday, state officials apologized, saying they're working with the scheduling vendor to get to the root of the problem.

"We will work with those cancelled on to reschedule their appointments at the nearest available time. We are sorry for the confusion this issue caused the impacted registrants," said Dr. David Adinaro, New Jersey Department of Health deputy commissioner for Public Health Services.

RELATED: Gloucester County officials say second dose of COVID-19 vaccine appointments will start soon

Another concern: scheduling second doses. At the Gloucester County mega site, patients are emailed or texted about their second dose. But that isn't working for everyone.

"I've called several times. My mom is 83, she has no access to the internet she does not have a smartphone. She has no way to get an appointment from where she got her first dose," said Denise Persichetti, of Runnemeade.

County officials say they will try to call those who don't have an email address or cell phone listed, and they hope to be able to schedule second doses on site soon.

They're also planning to run some pop-up vaccination clinics in senior living communities in the coming weeks.

"What we're going to try to do is try to have a closed site for those senior areas in Gloucester County where we actually go out remotely to the place, like housing authorities," said Bruner.

Starting on Sunday, Gov. Phil Murphy said the New Jersey vaccine hotline will be able to assist people who need to schedule second doses. That number is 855-568-0545.

Gloucester County also has a vaccine hotline: 856-218-4142.
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