Anyone remember when Larry Hogan, as the Republican candidate for governor in 2014, bashed the O’Malley administration and his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, over the messed-up rollout of Obamacare in Maryland? Hogan included the criticism in one of his campaign ads, saying Brown was a weak leader and “just not ready” to be governor. The current mess with COVID-19 vaccination registration reminds me of it. Maryland had months to plan for the arrival of the vaccine, and it slapped together a registration system that requires its citizens to spend hours on the computer or smart phone trying to book an appointment through multiple portals — for health department sites, mass vax sits, pharmacies and hospitals.
In a word: Ridiculous.
And if you think I’m writing from experience — that I have so far been unable to get an appointment, despite being age-eligible — you are correct. I won’t bore you with the details; thousands of people have had these problems, too. But here’s the thing: Now that it’s clear that having people register at multiple sites was a stupid idea, Hogan and his acting-like-a-health-secretary have decided that, next month, Maryland will launch a one-stop, preregistration web portal for people looking to book COVID-19 immunization appointments at the state’s mass vaccination clinics.
Three Months after vaccinations became available, and four months after the FDA first announced emergency approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. And everyone knew a vaccine was in the works for months. Everyone knew it was coming. And Maryland still looks like it just slapped together a system.
Maryland Democrats in Congress urged Hogan to create a one-stop website for appointments at all the distribution points, but he resisted. In fact, he seemed to resent the advice. Now, a few weeks later, here’s the acting-like-a-health-secretary telling us that “this is going to allow us to manage the flow of appointments, which we’re very excited about. But most importantly, we expect that establishing a preregistration system will improve the user experience and better prepare for the day when the supplies are very, very abundant.”
In other words, “We should have done this months ago. Sorry.” But don’t expect to hear anything like that.