California rolled out a statewide COVID vaccination website, aiming to streamline the appointment process after months of criticism. But the site is riddled with its own snags, preventing many from signing up for shots.
The vaccine sign-up website, My Turn, is the state's answer to a previous hodgepodge of vaccination appointment systems that residents had to log on to through websites belonging to various hospitals, pharmacies, clinics and many of
The site, created by tech giant Salesforce, is being integrated into insurer
The My Turn database, however, does not include information about vaccinations available at most pharmacies, or at
Like most aspects of state, local and federal government response to COVID, My Turn's rollout has been glitchy. Technology experts say the kinks are not surprising, given the multiplicity of health care information-sharing systems in the state, and a tendency of government officials to overlook the need for consumer usability when building IT systems.
So far, more than 650,000 vaccines have been administered via the My Turn system and 600,000 more are scheduled, Ng said. But widespread failures on the site have unleashed a chain of desperate and sarcastic social media responses.
"Here in the Bay Area, with
Several Twitter users said they were unable to register for the first shot because no slot for a second shot was being shown as available through the system.
"Seeing spots open on 3/1 on @Walgreens for my category, but no second dose appointments are available. And the MyTurn website shows spots, but has an error message after you choose a time," tweeted
Others say the system directed them to vaccination sites with no available slots.
"There are no appointments in
One irregularity allowed anyone who had registered in the state to book a vaccine appointment in tiny, rural
Technological issues with vaccination websites have been an issue nationwide. In
We asked four health tech experts to explain why My Turn and other systems are not running smoothly. Their responses have been edited for length and clarity:
The My Turn website and vaccination dissemination system are products of a reactive, rather than proactive, response that has plagued the medical and tech industries since COVID first came on the scene. Everybody is making this up on the fly. My Turn, in particular, is a usability nightmare. The site clearly favors already tech-savvy users and doesn't appear to have been properly vetted. Tech companies typically spend time and money on testing out software before being released to the general public. My Turn doesn't seem to pass such muster. There are informal ways of doing usability testing that are relatively cheap. Given all the money that we're spending on COVID vaccination, and given the economic benefit of vaccinating more people, it is cheap at any price.
The issues with My Turn and other state-adopted vaccination sites are rooted in government officials' lack of technological expertise. The people who are making the policy decisions are not equipped to make the tech decisions. Their ultimate goal is less focused on a good consumer experience and more on achieving a tangible result — which, in this case, is getting people vaccinated. Are people signing up? Yes. Are vaccines being distributed? Yes. Done. They think that checks their boxes. A tech issue is never just a tech issue. It's always a bureaucracy issue, or it's a silo issue or it's a lack of expertise. The way the government thinks about success is from another era. Government is really bad at providing a good user experience.
Even if you had the perfect technology, and everybody was using My Turn, people are still gonna be upset because they can't get vaccinated. We're in the valley of despair right now, because we had the weather issues in
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