Editor’s Note: The sign-up website for vaccination appointments at M&T Bank Stadium became operational Feb. 22. The original article appears below.
Thousands of Marylanders signed up for vaccine appointments at M&T Bank Stadium, only to have them canceled after the University of Maryland Medical System said the booking link was made “inadvertently” public.
Michael Schwartzberg, a spokesman for the hospital network, said most people who booked appointments did not know the link was invalid. Individuals have since been notified that their vaccines were canceled because eligibility couldn’t be confirmed. The vaccine registration link was widely shared among individuals before UMMS could shut it down, Schwartzberg said.
“During final build-out and preparation yesterday [Saturday] for launch of vaccination registration at the M&T Bank Stadium Mass Vaccination Site, an issue was discovered on a non-public website which inadvertently made an appointment booking link discoverable,” Schwartzberg said in a statement. “Vaccination appointments were created in error by several thousand people via this invalid link, where vaccination eligibility was unable to be confirmed, and the link was shared widely before we were able to shut it down.”
Schwartzberg did not specify how the registration link was made public or whether anything is being done to prevent this from occurring in the future.
After UMMS notified people about the registration mix-up, dozens took to the “Maryland Vaccine Hunters” Facebook group to express their frustration about securing an elusive appointment only to be let down.
“We understand there is great interest from people in getting vaccinated and we look forward to continuing to serve the community when the M&T Bank Stadium Mass Vaccination Site opens this coming week,” Schwartzberg said.
Although Schwartzberg said it appeared people weren’t intentionally intending upon jumping the vaccine line, local health departments have been battling cases of individuals sharing private vaccine links and then signing up for the vaccine when they aren’t qualified.
M&T Bank Stadium is set to open Thursday as the state’s third mass vaccination site, but officials have yet to say when individuals can register for the vaccine or how many doses will be allotted.
Baltimore officials and state lawmakers have raised questions about the difference in allotment between the state’s two mass vaccination sites, Six Flags America in Prince George’s County and the Baltimore Convention Center.
The two sites together receive about 16,000 of Maryland’s 88,000 total doses a week. About 2,000 people have been getting vaccinated each day at the Bowie amusement park, while about 400 people have been rolling up their sleeves daily at the convention center, according to Maryland Department of Health spokesman Charles Gischlar.