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Outer Cape Towns Cooperating on New Vaccine Appointment System

 

 

Health agents from Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown are working on their own system to sign people up for the COVID-19 vaccine.

The towns have heard from residents having problems with the website provided by the state, where Barnstable County clinics are listed.

Truro Health Agent Emily Beebe said she doesn’t know anyone who’s satisfied with it.

“We could do flu clinics in our sleep, you know? And we haven't used PrepMod, ever,” she said. “So we can use what we've used in the past. We can put this on a spreadsheet.”

She said the Outer Cape appointment system will probably be a phone bank, and the health agents hope to announce it in time for the next clinic.

Health agents from across the Cape discussed the issue in a meeting Tuesday after hearing from older residents who tried unsuccessfully to make appointments online, she said.

The two vaccination clinics on Cape Cod that opened for appointments Tuesday morning were crushed with demand and filled up within 45 minutes.

Some users said they had trouble with the website or couldn’t see the local clinics at all.

Erika Woods, deputy health director for Barnstable County, said the online platform at maimmunizations.org has limitations. 

“It's incredibly frustrating. And we definitely are receiving a lot of phone calls from frustrated citizens that we wish we could help,” she said.

Later in the morning, a smaller batch of Hyannis appointments unexpectedly went online.

Woods said that’s because the website automatically calculates the number of doses based on a clinic’s hours and the number of stations. The calculation was off, so the county had to add a second listing.

No matter how many appointments were available, the current system is unacceptable, said Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe, director of the Truro Council on Aging.

 

“This is our most vulnerable population being asked to use the most inefficient technology. ... So finding new ways to make that work is exactly what we need to do,” she said.