More than 1,200 vaccine appointments for Island residents 65 and older and those with two or more underlying conditions filled up in less than an hour Saturday morning, as a torrent of newly eligible Islanders rushed to schedule their shots next week.
The online process appeared to run smoothly, according to firsthand accounts, social media and hospital officials — although all available appointments were taken by 8:50 a.m. By 8:30 a.m., only Saturday time slots were still available.
“We were so pleased with how the scheduling process went this morning,” said hospital head of operations Claire Seguin in an email later Saturday morning.
The new online scheduling tool went live on the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital website at approximately 8 a.m. Saturday morning, Feb. 20.
Hospital officials confirmed the start time in an email Friday night.
At approximately 8:40, the hospital posted a Facebook update telling Islanders that if they got stuck with a “beating heart” loading page, to log out of Patient Gateway and sign back in. Patient Gateway is software used by Mass General-Brigham for patient signups.
Eligible Island residents could sign-up for available vaccine appointments using an online tool on the vaccine page of the hospital website.
Available appointments ran in 15 minute time slots from Monday, Feb. 22 through Saturday, Feb. 27. Hospital officials said they hoped to vaccinate 1,826 Islanders next week, including individuals receiving their second shot.
Officials made made 1,235 total appointments available for the first dose of the vaccine, they later confirmed. Another 591 appointments had already been scheduled for second dose vaccinations next week.
Appointments in Nantucket, also available through the hospital’s portal, filled up before Vineyard slots — with no available appointments by 8:45 a.m. Nantucket Cottage Hospital is also part of the Mass General-Brigham system.
In a follow up email, a hospital spokesman said that they would continue to open the scheduling tool every Saturday at 8 a.m. — the same time — in anticipation of the upcoming week.
“We are doing this, because we will not know until Friday of each week how many doses we will receive from the state. We are always dependent on the supply we receive from the state in determining the number of appointments we can schedule,” Ms. Seguin said in the email. “We want to thank everyone for their continued patience during the vaccine rollout. Today was a good first step.”
The second group of Phase Two of the state’s vaccine rollout is now eligible for shots, and includes those 65 or older, individuals with two or more certain medical conditions, and individuals who live or work in public and private low income and affordable senior housing.
According to the state, qualifying medical conditions include asthma, cancer, chronic kidney disease, heart conditions, weakened immune systems from organ transplants, obesity, pregnancy, sickle-cell disease, smoking and type two diabetes. Individuals must be 18 or older.
All staff and residents of Island Elderly Housing, Morgan Woods, Henrietta Brewer House, Mayberry and Havenside developments also qualify for vaccination.
The hospital has vaccinated more than 2,700 residents, including health care workers, first responders and individuals 75 or older, who were included in the first group of the governor’s Phase Two.