Due to a mistakenly shared link, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health is canceling over 30,000 vaccine appointments for first COVID-19 doses at the FEMA site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
According to a report published by WHYY, the error occurred because a QR code intended for people at the Convention Center to make appointments for the second dose was shared widely, allowing others to make appointments for first doses.
Because the FEMA site at the Convention Center is no longer scheduling vaccine appointments for the first dose and these were made in error, the city is contacting everyone who did not receive the vaccine and who has an appointment scheduled for the next weeks to cancel them.
Health Department spokesperson James Garrow explained that they do not have the second doses identified for those who received the first doses. “The rationale for that is not that we want to mix it up, it’s that we would have to provide them with second doses in three weeks, and we can’t do that, we don’t have the second doses identified for them.”
The Health Department has canceled more than 11,000 appointments for people who had scheduled them in the coming week and had not already received vaccines at the Convention Center clinic.
Garrow said Tuesday that the staff had gone through one week’s worth of appointments, with two more to go, amounting to over 30,000 cancellations.
At the beginning of the process, the second dose vaccine appointment at the Convention Center was obtained by registering at a desk. However, this procedure did not go as smoothly as expected, Garrow said.
In order to increase efficiency, the city and FEMA created a QR code so that people could register for their second-dose appointments on their phones while they waited the required 15 minutes after their shots.
The QR code photo
It seems that someone took a photo of the QR code and shared it on reddit. This allowed thousands of people to book first-shot appointments in slots intended for second shots.
These sign-ups were different from the shareable links that allowed many who were not yet eligible to sign up when the FEMA clinic first opened, a problem the city attempted to correct by creating one-time use links.
There is no effort to try to reschedule the canceled appointments, Garrow said, because the city has invited everyone who registered in the city’s vaccine interest database who falls into either Phase 1A or 1B to schedule an appointment.
“So if people haven’t received any notification from the vaccine interest list and they signed up, they’re not eligible,” he said.