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Tucson Convention Center exceeds Friday vaccine goal after unexpected computer glitch
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Tucson Convention Center exceeds Friday vaccine goal after unexpected computer glitch

After a malfunction in an online patient portal caused most of the day’s slots to go unfilled, the county sent out emails inviting people who work in schools and law enforcement.

Hundreds of people lined up at the Tucson Convention Center on Friday to get the COVID-19 vaccine, invited there after a computer glitch caused most of the day’s spots to go unfilled in online scheduling.

It’s an example of what can go wrong as Pima County’s Health Department works to get thousands of community members vaccinated daily against the disease that is known to have caused 12,001 deaths in Arizona.

The TCC opened its site for full service on Wednesday, said Andy Squire, public information officer for the city of Tucson, and people came down by appointment on those days.

On Friday, the plan was to vaccinate close to 1,100 by way of scheduled appointments but that morning only 130 were in the computer queue, he said.

The county’s Health Department is using Tucson Medical Center’s “My Chart” patient portal, but Thursday night there was a glitch, said Julia Strange, vice president of community benefit for TMC.

As a result, Pima County sent emails out inviting people who work in law enforcement, the courts and schools to come down.

“This was not because the vaccine was going to go to waste, but so that they could keep to the schedule,” she said.

Squire said 1,300 people were vaccinated by the end of the day.

“It was not open to the general public,” he said, when asked if people could just walk up, but only those who are within the current phase for eligibility.

The computer issues were resolved before noon Friday, said Dr. Francisco Garcia, the county’s chief medical officer.

During a news conference Friday, Garcia provided these additional updates:

  • The county is scheduled to receive 29,000 vaccines from the state next week, which Garcia said is “very insufficient” to meet the need.
  • He is aware that people 65 and older are frustrated about the process but said that because of a lack of enough vaccine doses from the state, the county can focus only on the current phase, which includes people ages 75 and older who are living at home, as well as law enforcement officers, firefighters and protective service workers, and teachers and child-care workers.
  • He said officials will revisit getting the vaccine to those 65 and over in a couple of weeks.
  • People do not need to worry about whether there will be enough vaccine for their second doses, which he said the county has accounted for based on amounts received from the state.
  • The county has received 107,000 doses from the state so far overall, and has administered roughly 59,000 shots.
  • On Tuesday, 800 county doses were given to clinics in rural parts of the county for those 75 and older.

Contact reporter Patty Machelor at pmachelor@tucson.com or 806-7754. On Twitter: @pattymachstar


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