Thousands sign up for unauthorized COVID-19 vaccine appointments in Maryland

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine is well underway across the United States, but it’s not without some logistical complications along the way.

In Montgomery County, Maryland, nearly 2,000 of Holy Cross Health’s 6,000 workers have already received their first dose of the vaccine. Heading into this week, the hospital system opened around 2,500 more vaccination appointments for its workers, that is until the sign-up link got into the wrong hands.

“When it’s time for our workers to make their appointments, we send out an email link and somehow that link got forwarded on to the community,” said Kristin Feliciano of Holy Cross Health.

Through the scheduling portal PrepMod, 2,000 ineligible community members signed up for spots meant for HCH workers. The hospital system says it was able to quickly respond to the logistical snag, cancel the clinics and notify those who had signed up. The first clinic this week was scheduled for Monday morning.

“We’ve had only around four people arrive since 6 a.m. and all four of them understood we’re only vaccinating our colleagues and medical staff,” Feliciano said Monday morning, around 10:30 a.m.

Going forward, HCH says the links will be internally-protected to prevent a similar situation from happening again.

Holy Cross Health’s vaccination timeline hasn’t changed. They’re hoping to have all staff through their first and second doses by the end of next month.

To the community members who are patiently waiting, Feliciano says, “We are with you, we will be able to take care of the most vulnerable among us. It is the hope of all that we will have the vaccine available to all in the community coming into the Spring.”

In neighboring Howard County, health officials say they have seen similar issues there with invalid or unauthorized sign-ups for vaccination clinics. Officials say those appointments will also not be honored.

According to the most recent data from the CDC, about 60,000 Marylanders have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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