The news began to spread on social media and in personal messages and conversations Friday: The state of Utah would struggle to meet appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations and vaccines could be wasted .
So, thousands of Utahns have gone to the new system on vaccinate.utah.gov. Due to an error by the State Department of Technology Services, the state acknowledges that the website allowed them to make appointments – although they did not have the specific health conditions or they did not have the specific health conditions. are old enough to meet current criteria.
So while the flawed website made these Utahns believe empty slots and wider access existed, they didn’t – and now 7,200 people have had their appointments canceled or canceled on their own. , and some face attacks on social media.
“I’m not a vaccine hunter,” said Kristin Fredrickson, 35, of Salt Lake City. “People are vilifying me for signing up for a vaccine. This is not at all what happened.
She and several other people told the same story – they heard that vaccines weren’t used and appointments weren’t filled, so they went to the website to register.
“That’s what prompted us to do it,” said Dustin Wolters, 38, of Riverton. “I thought – if they don’t use it and the vaccines are going to be wasted, I don’t want to miss this.”
[Read more: A flawed design by state employees allowed 7,200 unqualified Utahs to sign up for COVID-19 vaccine, officials say]
He heard it from a friend who heard it from an uncle, who is a doctor. Julie Bartel heard it from a friend who is a professor at the University of Utah. A social media article that circulated quoted an emergency room doctor at U .; a spokeswoman said on Monday that the United States was considering the tweet.
“The appointments were made in 100% good faith,” Bartel said. “No one was trying to jump the line, but rather to make sure vaccines didn’t go unused, which didn’t seem unrealistic given reports on the percentage of Utahn who were likely to withdraw from the vaccination altogether. . “
Gov. Spencer Cox said last week that “from April and May our biggest concern will be reluctance to vaccinate, for example, how to get people to get vaccinated because we have so many” .
Wolters tried to call the county health department to verify the information he heard, he said, but there were more than 50 callers waiting in front of him. “And without being able to do it, we didn’t want to miss our opportunity.”
And he also thought the story of the unscheduled dates sounded plausible.
“I personally know people who have received a vaccine because of these circumstances where people do not show up for their appointments,” he said. “So it seemed that there was a basis of truth in the story we had heard.”
And when he answered all questions honestly and was still allowed to book a date, he said, it seemed like confirmation that what he had been told about the doses. of unused vaccine was true.
“I thought it was legitimate,” admitted Fredrickson. “You assume that a government website is going to be programmed properly. This should not allow you to register if it is not OK. “
And they’re especially frustrated at being brand cheaters or line jumpers. There is a “strong innuendo that all of us who answered honestly and signed in good faith intentionally did something wrong,” Bartel said.
“I was really upset,” said Fredrickson. “Because we followed every guideline. We stayed at home. We haven’t seen a family for over a year. We did not go to Christmas. I haven’t seen my mother. I haven’t seen my father. We have missed weddings. We missed birthdays.
They feel they have been blamed by public opinion, without apologies or adequate responses from government officials. Salt Lake County and state tech workers became aware of an issue on Friday night, spokespersons said Monday.
Pressure from Salt Lake County social media to clarify that vaccine eligibility had not changed did not begin until after noon on Saturday, and it initially did not refer to or explain the website’s problem that allowed unqualified residents to make appointments.
The Utah Department of Health released a statement after 6 p.m. Saturday, explaining that there was an error on the site.
“The response from the government / health department has been disheartening,” Bartel said. “Hardly an excuse for the disruption and inconvenience and overwhelming disappointment of having canceled appointments. No real explanation of how or why this happened.
“Listening to my sister-in-law cry tears of relief that her eldest high school daughter – forced to go back to school four days a week starting this week – had a vaccination appointment was a moment that I didn’t. will not forget. I will also remember that the appointment was canceled 24 hours later. “
Brenda Wiebe, 35, of Salt Lake City, said believing she had a date to get it canceled was “incredibly disappointing. For a brief moment, I could see the end of the tunnel. A place where selfish people not wearing masks in grocery stores and the elevator in my building no longer put my life in danger because I would be protected.
Wolters and his wife, Tristen, are both 38 years old and have no pre-existing conditions. They are caring for an elderly family member who has been diagnosed with cancer, “so we thought, ‘If we can get it, we can reduce the risk of exposing it,'” Wolters said.
They are not sorry that they still have to wait their turn, but they are frustrated that they had registered correctly only to have their appointments canceled.
“If there are people who need it more than us, I understand,” he said. “We don’t want to take it from them.”
This is another common refrain among those who thought they were making legitimate appointments just to get them canceled. “I don’t want to get the shot until it’s my turn,” said Jason Black, 45, of Salt Lake City. “Let teachers, frontline workers, and the elderly, etc. get theirs first, but what a bummer.”