N.J. COVID-19 vaccine: State asks only health care workers use new registration portal due to huge volume

The state is asking only health care workers use a new tool to pre-register for coronavirus vaccines after a bumpy launch Tuesday morning when many users got an error message as they tried to sign on.

The problems were caused by the high volume Tuesday morning, the state’s Department of Health said.

While the portal, called the New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System (NJVSS), remains open to anyone who wants to get on waiting lists for the vaccines, the Health Department advised the general population to wait before signing up once users started reporting problems.

“If you are a health care worker in category 1a who has yet to be vaccinated, the Department of Health encourages you to go online and pre-register,” said Department of Health spokeswoman Donna Leusner. “Because the vaccine is limited, the Department encourages only health care workers to pre-register at this time.”

The website is covid19.nj.gov/vaccine.

She said some vaccination sites — particularly hospitals — have their own registration systems so using NJVSS isn’t necessary for those workers.

But, she said, two-thirds of health care workers are located outside of hospitals, such as staff in urgent care centers, physician offices, dentist offices and surgery centers.

“The NJVSS is a way for them to pre-register,” she said. “The value of NJVSS is to link up people who want the vaccine with those who are delivering the vaccine.”

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She said when more vaccines are available for essential workers, older adults and members of the public over the next few weeks and months, there will be announcements that people should sign up.

In the meantime, she said, some users may experience a temporary delay “as the system scales to meet demand.”

Even though the Health Department is asking only those in the 1a category to use the sign-up tool, others are still allowed to register if they are able to get into the system.

Users reported several different problems Tuesday, including error messages, changes to information they inputted about medical conditions and birth dates that were not accepted by the system.

“We understand a small number of people have had trouble entering a birth date and we are working to address that issue,” she said.

Leusner said the department’s technical team is looking at the other problems.

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Karin Price Mueller may be reached at [email protected].

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