Human error caused overbooking at Convention Center vaccine site, Long Beach says

An error in the state’s vaccine-booking system that caused long lines in Long Beach has been resolved, the city said today, but not before some people had their appointments canceled or rebooked because of the glitch.

When transitioning to the state-run appointment system this week, someone entered the wrong number of available vaccine doses, meaning too many slots were made available for the vaccination site at the Long Beach Convention Center, according to a city official. This forced on-site staff to turn people away or tell them to try their luck in the walk-in line instead.

“It was a human error at the state level and we worked with them to get it resolved,” said city spokesperson Kevin Lee.

On Monday, so many people showed up that it caused traffic jams in Downtown, and on Tuesday, some people with appointments were being redirected to a line for people who walk in without pre-booked slots.

That line though, was limited to 500 people, according to Leah Solorzano with the city’s special event office, which provides coordination support at the site. Normally, it’s reserved for eligible recipients who face challenges making an appointment online, for example due to language barriers or a lack of access to technology.

State officials did not respond to repeated inquiries from the Long Beach Post about how the overbooking error happened.

“Transitioning to a new system is bound to have some temporary challenges like we encountered early this week,” said Jennifer Rice Epstein, media relations lead for the city, said in an email. “Despite the error, we continue to vaccinate thousands daily, from all eligible groups.”

People affected by the mistake have been notified and will “have an opportunity to schedule a new appointment,” Rice Epstein said.

That new appointment, however, may not be in Long Beach. According to Rice Epstein, those who live or work in other cities might have to look for appointments there, an option offered through the state’s platform known as My Turn.

The My Turn system has been plagued with other problems as well. Health officials from other jurisdictions have complained about its lack of flexibility.

And in Long Beach, the city recently had problems with not enough eligible people showing up for appointments. On some days, they had surpluses of vaccines because the state’s booking system was letting too many ineligible people sign up, forcing screeners to turn them away on site.

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Alena Maschke writes about all things business and beyond for the Long Beach Business Journal/Long Beach Post. Born and raised in Germany, she first fell in love with California during an exchange year at UCLA. After receiving her master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in 2017, she returned to the Golden State with an appetite for great stories, pupusas and the occasional Michelada.