CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County released 25,000 first-dose coronavirus vaccine appointments Sunday for phases 1A to 1B+.
The Cook County Department of Public Health on Sunday also debuted a new “virtual waiting room,” and as CBS 2’s Marissa Parra reported, it was met with a combination of delight, frustration, and confusion.READ MORE: Deandre Binion Charged With Shooting 22-Month-Old Kayden Swann In Lake Shore Drive Road Rage Attack
Avi Rubin is a Vaccine Hunter, spending free time hunting for vaccine appointments for the elderly and high risk who may not be tech-savvy.
“I am booking the vaccine for a male in his 80s, and he has surgery in two weeks and needs his appointment as soon as possible,” Hunter said.
So when those 25,000 Cook County vaccine appointments became available on Sunday, Rubin logged right on.
Rubin has been navigating the county website for months. But for the first time Sunday, he was sent to a waiting room – along with at least 50,000 others.
“This was much better,” said Gayle Dieck, who scored a vaccine appointment.
But Rubin said, “I’m not sure how I feel about it.”
How one felt about the new Cook County Health virtual waiting room depended on their booking preferences.
“Last time, I would get on early and just continue to refresh the Cook County website,” Rubin said.
“I liked it, because I didn’t have to keep refreshing,” Dieck said.
Several online chimed in to praise Cook County, saying they thought the waiting room helped keep things more “civilized.”READ MORE: Inbound Eisenhower Shut Down In Bellwood Due To Police Activity
For Dieck and roughly 25,000 others, they walked away from their laptops with a success story.
“I was about to give up after an hour and a half, but then it just opened up and they let me in,” Dieck said.
Some made it out of the waiting room – like she did – but only to find that was as far as they could go.
And thousands of others, like Rubin, waited the full two hours – only to get no vaccine appointment, but a lot more frustration.
“I think it really is a more civilized process, but for my purposes as a vaccine hunter, I think it’s more difficult,” Rubin said. “I’m trying to book appointments for people and I’m stuck in here trying to compete with thousands of others people.”
Cook County Health said at its peak, 70,000 people were in the waiting room – even though we clocked 50,000.
“To improve the sign-up process and website performance, Cook County Health implemented a virtual waiting room,” a spokeswoman said in a statement. “As part of the waiting room process, once the link is opened, a limited number of people were admitted to the booking page. Visitors were admitted to the booking page from the waiting room on a first-come, first serve basis if vaccine was available when it was their turn.”
They said the whole point of the waiting room was to control the flow of traffic so that the website wouldn’t crash, but getting from the waiting room to the vaccine booking page, as we saw, doesn’t guarantee an appointment.
Parra also asked about why some people who joined the waiting room later got appointments ahead of those who joined earlier. Cook County Health said that comes down to the cookies on people’s devices.
The people who did get appointments will go to one of four suburban mass vaccination sites:MORE NEWS: Airlines Waiting For Word From Boeing On Fixing Electrical Issue In Dozens Of 737 Max Planes
- Triton College, 2000 5th Ave, River Grove;
- South Suburban College, 15800 State St., South Holland;
- Des Plaines vaccine site at 1155 E. Oakton St.;
- Forest Park vaccine site at 7630 Roosevelt Rd.
People eligible under Phases 1A, 1B, 1B+, and some previously classified as 1C were allowed to register. That included healthcare workers, long-term care facility residents and staff, frontline essential workers, people age 65 and older, people with certain underlying health conditions, higher education workers, government employees, media, restaurant workers, construction trades workers, and religious leaders.