Service of Vaccine Appointment Idiocy in NYC

January 14th, 2021

Categories: Healthcare, Pandemic, Technology


I was stunned at the process to get a Covid-19 vaccine appointment in Manhattan and am shocked that I got one at all–for April 7 late in the day about two miles from home! I walk.

It took me the better part of two days of filling out countless forms to become eligible to make an appointment at a venue only to learn there were no appointments to be had. I repeated the process countless times. I grabbed one date and when I hit ENTER at the end of the process got an error message. My appointment went up in smoke.

It’s not just New York. Retired TV and radio sports broadcaster Warner Wolf, known for the catchphrase “Let’s go to the videotape!” said in a radio interview on Monday that he hasn’t been able to get an appointment in Florida. He’s in his 80s.

If your choice of venue has no available appointments you are told to “click here” for alternatives to get a Covid test. But you want a vaccine!

What infuriates me is how scattershot the whole vaccine appointment business is in New York City. It’s a mess.

  • Why do they increase eligibility when they haven’t taken care of the earlier categories approved to receive vaccines?
  • Why aren’t the locations offering vaccines listed in the city’s website by borough? Instead there’s one in Brooklyn next to a Staten Island followed by the Bronx with a few Manhattans sprinkled in.
  • Why aren’t the venues listed alphabetically?
  • Why doesn’t the search function work?
  • Why do you have to fill out all sorts of information in some instances only to find out in the end that the clinic or hospital or venue doesn’t have any appointments?
  • If your choice of hospital or clinic in the city system has no available appointments you are told to “click here” for alternatives to get a Covid test. But you want a vaccine. [Photo right]
  • I called 311, the city’s information service, for the link to get a vaccine appointment at the Javits Center when I heard it was added to the venues [it wasn’t on the city’s website and Google was no help] and the lovely voice said, “Oh! I didn’t know you could get a vaccine there.”  She had no information.

Saw this too often. By “event” the venue meant appointment.

Once I finally saw an opening, I grabbed it. I felt like a person with scarf over my eyes being twirled in circles before heading off to pin the tail on the donkey. I couldn’t tell you which site brought me to the venue with a free appointment.

There were questions after selecting the date and time. [I had no choice of time.] One wanted your mother’s maiden name if you’re under 16. I left it blank. In reviewing the information before confirming the appointment I noticed that one of my clients is listed as my mother. I use a lot of online websites to promote my clients’ events. So out of the ether his name appeared! Apparently all of these online forms are connected.

I was asked if I feel OK, do I have a sore throat? These questions would make sense if I was getting my vaccine this week. But I won’t see the needle for three months so the question is irrelevant.

I might have booked a reservation a few weeks from now had I been willing to travel to Staten Island or Coney Island or the Bronx. I have been Covid-cautious avoiding transportation since March. I’m not willing to expose myself to the virus to travel to outer boroughs in order to get the vaccine.

I plan to duck into the system again once more vaccine is available to see if I can get an earlier appointment and perhaps one closer to home. I suspect a shortage of vaccine is the cause of the paucity of appointments.

What about people without access to the Internet? WOR radio interviewed a 90+ year old woman who gave up after a three hour wait on the phone. She’d arrived without an appointment at the Javits Center, the newest venue in the city.

I am disappointed that with all this time to prepare that New York City made such a hash of the crucial step of getting vaccines into its citizens’ arms. Which city/state has a better system? Why aren’t communities sharing their intel?

Got excited to get this far but there was no way to pick a time. Back to scratch.

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16 Responses to “Service of Vaccine Appointment Idiocy in NYC”

  1. Hank Goldman Said:

    It’s definitely a horror show… People we know are trying anything to try to get an appointment… And most have run into the same roadblocks as you have!

    There seems to be no one Particular method to handle the appointment side of this… No one appears to be in charge. Some people are either getting lucky or are just stubbornly trying every possible route… Some are able to get local appointments.

    My feeling is that as more vaccines become available the rush will slow down, and the entities that run it, will become more experienced and handle things in a smoother manner… At least I certainly hope so!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I fear that there are people like me who will try to get earlier appointments [once I recover from the horror of getting the first one I might] and forget to cancel their original ones [or be too lazy to do so]. The vaccine vendors will be like restaurants–in normal times– stiffed when people don’t show and they lose business as a result. Only the consequences are worse because people will be delayed from getting a life-saving vaccine.

  3. Moustapha Bin As-Lip Said:

    I heard the CEO of Northwell Health (a huge faceless local hospital conglomeration) yesterday saying that vaccinations of healthcare workers are up to the 60% level at the moment. That would tend to indicate to me that New York isn’t ready yet to do ‘lower’ categories of the needy?

    Which may be why Sinai is currently sending out “Dont-call-us-we’ll-call-you” letters to everyone they know?

    It is baffling why both NY and NJ has supposedly opened up vaccinations to the over 65s; but under those circumstances, why would you expect the vaccination web site to work properly? They havent even thought it important enough to pay their tech support people to get their web site working properly!

  4. BC Said:

    Vaccines in Fl. are coming 2000@ a time , enough to give 1000 people
    two doses. The logistics of getting the vaccine are bad. Yesterday,
    2000 doses came to our county health dept., and appointments were filled in
    ten minutes. Veterans can get it immediately by going to the VA hospital.
    There is no plan to help the healthy over 80 folks.The vaccine has a shelf
    life, posing another problem.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Precisely–one of my questions as well. They should not have opened phase 2 until 80 percent of phase 1 candidates have been vaccinated. I didn’t realize it was as bad as 60 percent. I was willing to walk to Lenox Hill hospital–in the Northwell family–but couldn’t get in.

    In a morning radio newscast I heard that in New Jersey smokers are considered compromised because they don’t do well if they catch Covid so are moving to the head of one of the categories. There is zero consistency.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    The whole situation seems slapdash. There is no master plan.

    You’re supposed to get the second dose after X weeks which Florida seems to be adhering to.

    But because there isn’t enough vaccine there’s talk of folks in some states waiting as long as 3 months for dose 2 so others can get the first one.

    For such a crucial health crisis I wish we had a reliable, steady flow of information and as I wrote to Moustapha, more consistency.

  7. Penne Yazel Said:

    Penne on Facebook: New York is at least one step ahead with a site. Iowa has absoloutely nothing ready for the next phase.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Missing is an overall strategy, opportunities for states to share tactics that work. As I responded to Moustapha, not until close to 80 percent of healthcare workers are vaccinated should the second level open up. Given the speed in which the hospital and clinic dance cards are filled–in hours–not a spot would be wasted.

  9. ASK Said:

    A good friend was told about the Javits Center opening up, went online, filled out a long form, submitted an emailed health clearance from her GP and got the first shot yesterday. She made sound so easy…I am surprised by both her story and your difficulties.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    The difference was the GP who may have given her the link. I flew solo. It took me most of the day to find the Javits site–it wasn’t on the NYC list of vendors or Google and 311 was useless. I read countless articles looking for a link. None. By the time I found it yesterday evening the first opening was April 7.

    Call me retarded–in many ways–as in en retard.

  11. Penne Yazel Said:

    Penne on Facebook: I have a feeling we will do the same. They need to get the first level done or close to done before starting on the next tier. We desperately need a better organized system at all states so things are consistent. Florida is doing horrible with the whole first come, first served, which has caused people to wait hours upon hours.

  12. MarthaTakayama Said:

    We are living in a leaderless nation with a demented criminal as titular head and with no appropriate leaders in any of the government agencies that should be responsible for the vaccination campaign. It is impossible to understand why living in an age of state of the art technology we do not have any plans for administering the vaccines(s) for the pandemic.

    None of what you write about the specifics makes any sense. Obviously no one understands demographic, economics, transportation, generational differences, technological differences or operations research. The total fragmentation of responsibilities ensures that no vaccination program can function efficiently or take care of the needs of our population.

    Matters are further complicated by power rivalry at state and lower political levels. I live in Massachusetts and think we are behind New York in planning. However, all I can hope for is that under President Biden, somehow the logistics of public health and epidemiology will be placed in the hands of suitable individuals who can address these matters with the same intellectual skills that schools of public health and of business administration at the highest level use for problem solving. Until that sort of thinking falls into place I think we are in limbo verging on disaster.

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:


    The comments that join yours in Massachusetts–from Florida and Iowa and mine from NYC–do not augur well.

    There are moments of easy success–ASK shared one. But not many.

    I agree that a master plan made by topnotch public health directors and other specialists has been missing from the start and we are all suffering and worse as a result. Biden has so many dropped balls to pick up that I hope he is able to do it. We are asking a lot. So much as been neglected or trashed in four years.

  14. Larry Kay Said:

    Larry on Facebook: I have an appointment now for Jan 28, but I’m still dazed from the frustration and anxiety from yesterday.

  15. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I saw opportunity in unknown necks of the metro woods but wanted to be able to walk to my appointment so even Chinatown or Harlem were out of the question.

  16. Larry Kay Said:

    Larry on Facebook: of course! In the outer boroughs, there’s some hope of finding parking so I rent a car.

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