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Simple fix for vaccination mess: A better web page | READER COMMENTARY

Ria Peralta of the University of Maryland Medical System is the project manager for the Baltimore Convention Center vaccine site which opened on Feb. 5, 2021. (Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun).
Ria Peralta of the University of Maryland Medical System is the project manager for the Baltimore Convention Center vaccine site which opened on Feb. 5, 2021. (Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun). (Barbara Haddock Taylor)

One of the ways the present administration has failed Marylanders is by allowing web developers to use pages to show off their personal virtuosity instead of to make information readily available and communication straightforward, even for people with slow internet speeds. This is a chronic problem on most state websites, including the Maryland Transit Administration, but worse than usual on the COVID pages (”Can Maryland learn from other states’ COVID vaccine rollout and create a single sign-up site?” Feb. 5).

In a world where government has allowed monopoly pricing for broadband, there are a lot of people who can’t or won’t pay for it — a minority, certainly, but a sizable minority, and one that includes a lot of those elderly and poor people the state claims to be so concerned about vaccinating. Cluttering up the vaccine page with multiple extraneous scripts (Amazon news? Give me a break!) means it will not load easily on dial-up or slower DSL connections.

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Then when one enters a ZIP code, it opens a map page with still more scripts and worse difficulty loading. Did I ask for a map? No. I asked for a simple, short list of locations not overly far from my area, with concise information about which vaccine they are offering, what their hours and procedures are, and how I can make an appointment.

Clicking on the alternative link, which is supposed to produce a comprehensive list, leads to a page that will not load fully because it, too, has a map and the data that are supposed to be its primary focus never get a chance. Anyone with half a brain would have provided a data page without a map that would load quickly and made the link to the map optional.

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The purpose of government websites is supposed to be to communicate with people as efficiently as possible, providing information they need and allowing them, when necessary, to provide information in their turn. Frankly, Gov. Larry Hogan, I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam, Baltimore

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