With the approval of Moderna and Pfizer's vaccines for emergency use in December it was time for the state governments (and health care players) to get people scheduled for their two doses. This was hardly a big surprise - the Trump administration had said back in the summer that it was targeting late 2020 or early 2021 for them to be available, and the companies more or less supported that claim. Yet if the web sites out there are any indication the effort to register people to get their shot was a quick throw together. I speak from experience of trying to use them.
First up we have Baltimore County. I filled out the online form and hit submit, hoping that the next screen would let me pick a time, if available. I certainly expected that I'd get a confirmation email that registration was successful. But no, nothing. Crickets. A few days later on NextDoor I see a thread that apparently some people are getting an acknowledgement, but usually only after multiple attempts. Which I'm sure has led to multiple registrations by now, and likely making it challenging to determine just how many people are ready to get vaccinated. You have no way to see an estimate as to when you'll get it, nor any way to unregister should you manage to get the shot at some other venue. Overall a glitchy and not well thought out implementation.
The next award goes to Giant Pharmacy's attempt. Often when you click on their link to schedule an appointment you receive a screen telling you that you are in a queue. They're nice enough to given you the estimated time you'll be taken to the page to register for an appointment (anywhere from a couple minutes to half an hour in my experience), and your anticipation grows that you'll be able to set up an appointment.
However, in all the times I've done this over the last two weeks, once you leave the queue you're told there's no vaccinations slots available and to please check back later. Clearly there were none available to begin with, so why make the person wait with false hope of being seen? Query your database and if OpenAppt == null, say that right up front. That's basic user experience design.
Then we have RiteAid's effort. The start page has you fill out a form to verify whether you are eligible, about 5 questions. Not a big deal except that you have to do that every single time, every day that you want to check. That's what cookies are for RiteAid - you can save some information on the user's browser so that they have a better experience. Look it up.
Once you get the display of stores that are participating in COVID vaccinations you select one. And then it depends on your luck as to whether the "Next" button will be enabled. Some days it is, some days it isn't. On the days that it was enabled it always yielded an apology that no vaccines were available. So, like Giant, maybe do that check right after I give you my zip code? Or maybe use the ability to access my device location and warn me immediately that there's nothing available in my area right now?
|"Next" is disabled with no explanation of why|
And, to complete the experience at RiteAid, if you do get the "sorry, try again later" message then they don't want you to navigate away, posting a warning alert that you may lose data. What data? That you don't have any vaccination appointment to offer me?