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Charlie's Website Woes

Not sure about the rest of you, but I am honestly embarrassed to live in Massachusetts right now. Not only are we handling the Covid-19 crisis worse than most states (perhaps better than New York) but we can’t seem to even handle the handing out of vaccines.

When the groundbreaking Covid-19 vaccine was announce in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker, in his infinite wisdom, opened up the appointment making process to those 75 and older first. Makes sense honestly. Where Baker failed, is making the process online.

Let’s start with the obvious. The majority of folks 75 and older, are not the most adept internet users. That leaves the burden of making the appointments to their kids, grandkids, family members, etc. Those people who can’t even go see them by the way.

I’m not here to just point out problems. I’m coming at you with solutions. An easy fix for this first problem is to create a call center where seniors can call in and talk to an operator who will make the appointment online. Where will we get those operators you may ask? I’m sure there are some waitresses, bartenders, dishwashers, and other service industry folks who Baker put out of work who would be happy to answer some phones.

Now that we’ve solved that issue in about 17 seconds, let’s move to the biggest problem here.

When the vaccine website was launched, it almost immediately crashed. Not allowing most folks to schedule appointments. When these seniors, who already aren’t great at working technology finally got on, the appointments were gone.

I’m not ignorant. I realize that almost every website that launches is going to have some hiccups. In fact, the website you’re currently reading this on had a few issues upon its triumphant launch. That being said, I am a physical education teacher who was trying to create a blog website. I am in no way a web designer. Charlie Baker definitely had a team of talented web designers and coders to make this website. It should have performed better.

Oh well, you might be saying. Live and learn. As a great man once said, things take time.

Then came the extension of those who are eligible for the vaccine. It went from those 75 and older, to those who are 65 and older. As well as those with at least 2 other issues. That greatly increased the number of people who would be able to log on and make appointments. When Governor Baker was asked if the same issues were expected with the website, he unequivocally said they were totally prepared for the increased volume of folks logging on.

Spoiler alert: He was wrong.

Within mere minutes of the appointments opening up, the website crashed yet again. Frustrating thousands and thousands of people who were trying to get a potentially life saving vaccine.

Again, I’m not an idiot. I get that with even more people trying to log on, issues are to be expected. But, come on. Baker saw what happened the first time. He should’ve known this was going to happen and told people to expect issues. He didn’t have to lie and say they were totally prepared. A little honesty goes a long way.

All that being said, it doesn’t end there. Here we sit this morning and the website is STILL having issues with crashing and dealing with the volume of folks trying to log on. This is just a disgrace at this point. For a state that contains some of the best technological colleges in the world to be having these issues is pathetic.

Again, I’m not here to just point out problems. I come with solutions.

After having the first slew of issues, Governor Baker should’ve gone over to MIT, Harvard, WPI and every other technology school with an offer. Create a competition amongst the computer science students to create a better website for those trying to make appointments. Quite honestly, he wouldn’t even have to pay them. Baker could just offer a dozen 30 packs of Busch Light and 50 pizzas to the team that could make the best site. I’m sure after about a day, he would easily have dozens of great websites to choose from.

It sounds dumb, but someone tell me why that wouldn’t work. I’ll wait.

If you’re Governor Baker, you know it’s bad when both sides of the Covid argument are taking shots at you. He is between a rock and a hard place. The most shameful part is that neighboring states are doing so much better. New Hampshire took over the process fully from any sort of federal involvement and is delivering their vaccines at an impressive rate.

I know what you’re going to say, “The federal government and Trump caused this.” I am sure there were some serious issues with the feds through this process. What I just said about New Hampshire proves that states can alleviate these issues. Besides, there is a new administration in now and the issues persist.

As a 28 year old, I know I am nowhere near getting the vaccine. As I shouldn’t be. But at the rate Massachusetts is going, I won’t even be able to log on until mid-December of 2026.

These kinds of issues are the kind that costs people their jobs. And hopefully Massachusetts will smarten up and see that something needs to change.

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