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Jefferson County cancels 2,000 vaccine appointments after registration link shared online

A private link to make an appointment started getting shared on social media, leading to more than 1,900 people making appointments even though they weren't invited

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. — Nearly 2,000 people signed up for a COVID-19 vaccination event in Jefferson County, even though they weren’t invited to participate. Now, the health department is working to cancel hundreds of appointments for people who shouldn’t have been able to make them in the first place.

The Jefferson County Health Department will hold a two-day mass vaccination clinic March 1-2 at First Baptist Church in Arnold. The health department will provide 1,200 doses a day.

Appointment invitations were sent out to those who registered through the county and filled out the Vaccine Interest Survey. This survey “holds a place in line” for those who complete it. When vaccines are available — and a resident is in an eligible group — the county will send out invitations to make an appointment.

However, a private link to make an appointment started getting shared around on social media, leading to more than 1,900 people making appointments with what the county called “unauthorized registration links.” The department cross-referenced email addresses to see just how many people used the link to make an appointment.

“Individuals may not have realized they were utilizing an unauthorized link at the time given the wide circulation of the link,” the health department said in a news release Thursday afternoon.

Since so many people made appointments who weren’t invited or possibly not eligible to get a shot, Jefferson County officials made the decision to cancel the appointments for everyone who didn’t personally get an authorized appointment link from the health department.

“In order to maintain the integrity of the registration process as intended, JCHD has made the decision to cancel any appointments made by individuals who did not directly receive the registration credentials. This will ensure that those who are registered in the system will be entitled to the reserved appointments that were offered to them,” the health department said.

The health department will contact the hundreds of people who had an appointment canceled by phone or e-mail.

“We recognize that this may cause frustration for impacted individuals, but it is the only way to honor the legitimate registrations of those who completed the process and waited their turn in line for an appointment,” said Jefferson County Health Department Director Kelley Vollmar. “Registration links are meant specifically for the individual who receives the email and is their personal opportunity to receive the vaccine. If the link is made public or shared with others, then it robs other invitees of the same opportunity to receive their long-awaited vaccine."

The Jefferson County Health Department said those who are interested in receiving the vaccine should register on its waiting list, which is on the health department's website. Anyone without internet access can call the department’s COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Line at 636-789-8941.

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