Beaumont website crashes 'due to overwhelming demand' for COVID-19 vaccines

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
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Beaumont Health's online appointment system crashed Friday due to an overwhelming demand for COVID-19 vaccines, officials said.

The health system's myBeaumontChart appointment system is experiencing intermittent outages as a surge of patients flood the website for appointments.

The state's largest hospital system sent out invitations Thursday night following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's announcement opening vaccinations to people age 65 and older starting next week.

Beaumont Health COO Carolyn Wilson gives COVID-19 shots to the first Beaumont health care workers at the Beaumont Service Center in Southfield on Dec. 15, 2020.

Front-line essential workers, such as K-12 teachers, were also included in Whitmer's announcement and should contact their employer or local health department to discuss their vaccination options, the health system said.

"There are no walk-in appointments at any Beaumont location," the hospital announced in a notice on its website. "Due to overwhelming demand, we are unable to answer individual phone calls or emails about the vaccine or myBeaumontChart."

In the past three weeks, Beaumont has administered more than 18,500 initial doses in a health system with 38,000 employees and 5,000 doctors, and 1,553 workers are fully vaccinated as of Friday. The health system received a shipment of 12,000 doses on Tuesday, spokesman Mark Geary said. Half of those are the second doses for health care workers.

Beaumont has sent 25,000 additional reminders for appointments to schedule for health care workers to receive first doses. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nick Gilpin told The Detroit News this week he has high hopes the majority of the staff will be vaccinated within six weeks.

"I think reasonably we're on track. If you think about it, we're coming out of the holiday season, which is a tricky season for a lot of people ... because they're holidays," said Gilpin, an infectious disease specialist. "I think that now, as people start to turn into 2021, everybody kind of snaps back into focus. I expect that we're going to get a lot more healthier workers back in the coming weeks, and I still think we can keep that six-week timeline intact."

Dr. Nick Gilpin, chief of infectious disease and chief medical officer for Beaumont Grosse Pointe, receives his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Jan. 4, 2021.

Gilpin received his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday and said health care professionals have to set an example for the public for when it's their turn to receive it.

"Pick your poison here. On the one hand, as health care workers, it's important for us to get vaccinated because we are caring for and want to protect our families and our communities," Gilpin said. "On the other hand, as health care workers, I think this is an opportunity for us to put our money where our mouth is and get vaccinated to show the public that we believe in the science, that we believe the vaccine is safe and effective."

Beaumont said it now has the capacity to vaccinate more than 3,200 people each day and "we plan to expand to additional sites soon," an email to patients said.

The health system plans to vaccinate all of its providers, employees and affiliates — including medical, nursing, pharmacy, respiratory therapy and affiliated private practice teams soon.

"Our plan is to launch more robust clinics at some of our hospital campuses and other community locations," Beaumont Health Chief Nursing Officer Susan Grant said.

Data posted by the CDC on Wednesday show that 35 states have administered more vaccine doses than Michigan, despite state officials' claims on Wednesday that the state ranks 11th for the number of initial shots given.

At a Wednesday afternoon press briefing, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan's chief medical executive, said she'd spoken with the CDC just moments before and was told that the state ranked fifth-best in the state for the number of vaccines administered. But that ranking wasn't borne out in the numbers posted by the CDC Wednesday night.

More: Feds rank Michigan low in COVID-19 vaccination rates

According to the CDC’s vaccine tracker, Michigan has received 662,000 vaccines and administered 137,887 as of Thursday.

Michigan surpassed 13,000 deaths linked to the coronavirus Thursday. It added 4,015 new cases of the coronavirus and 176 deaths.

The latest figures bring the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan to 512,751 and deaths to 13,094 since the virus was first detected in March, according to tracking by the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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