A spokesman for the Oregon Health Authority confirmed Wednesday that “a glitch” led the agency to invite approximately 11,000 people who aren’t yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination to schedule an appointment this week.
The state health authority manages Get Vaccinated Oregon, the registry of names used to fill appointments at the mass vaccination site located inside the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.
The error occurred in an eligibility list the Oregon Health Authority shared with All4Oregon on March 21.
“We sincerely apologize for our mistake and the confusion it has caused,” said Tim Heider, Oregon Health Authority spokesman.
“Our partners at All4Oregon have committed to honoring appointments offered and made as part of our error. We, at OHA, understand how stressful the last year has been, as well as how eager we all are to get vaccinated,” he added.
People who aren’t yet eligible for a vaccine can sign up on the registry and receive a notification by text or email when their group qualifies.
The error impacted about 15% of the 72,000 people offered appointments at the convention center this week and added confusion to an already confusing system.
Whether or not an Oregonian currently qualifies for the shot depends on a constellation of factors that include a person’s age, county of residence, profession and underlying health conditions.
Online, dozens of people in Phase 1b, group 7 — which includes essential workers and people ages 16 to 44 with an underlying health condition — reported receiving invitations to schedule an appointment weeks before their eligibility date of April 19. All adults in Oregon, regardless of age and health condition, will be eligible for vaccine appointments beginning May 1.
Among those offered an appointment was Kasi, a financial planner. OPB agreed not to use her last name because she feared losing her appointment.
“I’m in group number 7, essential workers. I signed up to get notification when I could get my vaccine” she said. “I answered all the updated questions that they put out the other day when they changed the guidelines. (On Tuesday), I got an email saying I was going to get another email to schedule my vaccine.”
Initially, Kasi worried the email was a scam. But she followed the link, verified her personal information and was able to sign up for an appointment March 31.
“I was the most excited I’ve felt all year,” Kasi said. “I was really nervous that I was going to have to fight for a slot.”
Some OPB staff were also among those who signed up to be notified when they were eligible and were offered appointments this week.