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Maricopa County COVID-19 vaccine website struggles with 1B rush

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – The flood of people attempting to sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations in the Phoenix area overwhelmed the system shortly after phase 1B registration opened Monday morning.

Less than 20 minutes after the appointment page opened at 6 a.m., Maricopa County Public Health said the system was overwhelmed and asked users to wait 20 minutes before trying again.

The agency said it increased server capacity recently, but the high demand still caused issues.

“Volume always causes a problem. If you can’t get through right away, try again in a little bit,” Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Monday.

Anybody without computer access or who would rather not use the online system can call 844-542-8201 to register. Technical help is available at 602-542-1000.

At 9:50 a.m., the state health department tweeted that almost 10,000 Arizonans had registered for appointments.

Many people who did get through online complained that there were no open appointments left. Officials previously said appointments would be limited.

Users have to click through to each day to see if appointments are open.

Spots at the state’s new 24-hour, vaccination site at State Farm Stadium in Glendale didn’t come online until 9 a.m.

The state-run stadium location is taking appointments through the end of January at this time. It will hold a soft launch on Monday afternoon for law enforcement and other protective service workers. The first actual appointments there for eligible groups are for Tuesday.

Information about locations and how to register can be found at the state health department’s website.

Officials anticipate adding more site options for eligible groups to receive shots, which could include pharmacies and employer-based vaccination events.

Only people in the priority segment of 1B became eligible for vaccines in Maricopa County on Monday: education and childcare professionals and support staff, law enforcement and protective services personnel, and adults age 75 and older.

There is no timetable for when the rest of phase 1B — adults living in congregate settings and workers classified as essential — or subsequent phases will become eligible for vaccinations.

People in phase 1A — which includes frontline health care workers, emergency medical services workers and staff and residents at long-term care facilities — are allowed to get vaccinated during phase 1B but no longer have priority over other eligible populations.

Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was among those who had issues trying to get an appointment.

“It is a total failure. It’s unbelievable,” Brewer told KTAR’s Arizona’s Morning News.

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For Arizona vaccine information, visit azdhs.gov/findvaccine.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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