Arizona's COVID-19 vaccine online appointment system flooded with requests

Arizona health officials began registering people Tuesday, Jan. 19 for new COVID-19 vaccine appointments in February and that means there was an overwhelming demand once time slots opened.

"What we want everyone to know, we know demand is going to be high, we’re going to be opening tens of thousands of appointments today," said the director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, Dr. Cara Christ.

When 9 a.m. hit, the demand for new vaccine appointments in February was high. The state opened their online schedules up to a new age group, people 65 and over, along with the other eligible groups like teachers, law enforcement and people 75 and over who hadn’t scheduled an appointment yet.

MORE: How to sign up and schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment

Many were met with a website that took a while to show open appointments because so many people were looking for the same thing. The Arizona Department of Health Services Twitter account tried to keep people updated through through the day.

FOX 10 spoke with Valley man, David Kofchock, who got all the way up to confirming his appointment until he got an "internal server error" message.

The new vaccine site at Phoenix Municipal Stadium was all booked up by 1 p.m. More than 87,000 appointments had been made at the 24-hour site at State Farm stadium by early afternoon.

Known as the "prioritized Phase 1B" for COVID-19 vaccinations in Arizona, those ages 75 years and older are struggling to book appointments and find sites close enough to their homes.

Now that the vaccine has been made available to a new group, the current challenge is the commute to a vaccine location and lack of appointments.

"It's just ridiculous that there's nowhere in the East Valley that we can get the vaccine," says 80-year-old Phyllis Manrod. She and her and 84-year-old Husband, Richard Manrod, live in Chandler.

They're running out of patience trying to navigate online between the Arizona Department of Health Services and Maricopa County Department of Health for COVID-19 vaccine appointments nearby.

"And when we select a location, it says 'no appointments are available,'" Phyllis explains. They're supposed to be prioritized in phase 1B since they're over 75.

The closest pharmacy vaccination site to the Manrods is in Mesa. But still, no luck in finding an appointment there.

The county says its current supply of vaccine has been administered to eligible groups or allocated to partners for distribution.

The couple would have to choose State Farm Stadium in Glendale or the Phoenix Municipal Stadium, which could take hours. Hours won't work for the couple as their medications impact how long they can be out of the house.

They haven't seen their family in person since the pandemic began to mitigate the risk of infection. "I have to go out and get the mail after 10:30 at night for any packages we have because we have people that come through here without masks on," Richard said.