Walgreens Apologizes After ‘Temporary Outage' of Vaccine, Testing Scheduler

NBC 5 News

Walgreens said a "temporary outage" affected its vaccine and testing appointment scheduler Monday as the company reports "unprecedented demand" for testing and vaccinations during the holidays.

"Today we experienced a temporary outage of some of our web applications, including the appointment scheduler for COVID-19 vaccinations and testing," the company said in a statement Monday afternoon. "The issue has now been fixed, and we apologize to our customers and patients for any inconvenience."

Earlier in the day, users reported being placed in a "virtual waiting room" while attempting to book appointments via the Illinois-based pharmacy chain's website.

Walgreens noted that the outage came as "we are seeing unprecedented demand for related testing and vaccine services and products."

“We remain committed to meeting the needs of our customers and patients and are doing all we can to support our communities during this critical time,” John Standley, Walgreens' president, said in a statement. “With heightened demand for COVID vaccines, testing and other services, in addition to the busy holiday season, our pharmacy and store team members are working incredibly hard every day. We ask that our customers please show patience and understanding as together, we continue to navigate the evolving pandemic environment.”

The company said it has administered nearly 55 million COVID-19 vaccines and more than 22 million COVID-19 tests nationwide.

Current wait times for results are reported to be between 24 and 48 hours for PCR test results, but rapid tests are being returned in less than 24 hours.

Availability of appointments varies by location and time.

Walgreens last week placed a four-item purchase limit on at-home COVID testing kits in stores and online. It warned of temporary shortages of such tests at many stores.

Across Illinois, demand for testing has increased as many gather for the holidays and as cases surge. Long lines have been reported at facilities across the Chicago area in recent weeks as supplies of at-home tests dwindles.

In an attempt to address the heightened demand, Illinois will increase its community based testing site hours starting next month, the governor announced Monday.

Starting Jan. 3, such sites will operate six days a week.

To address potential shortfalls in supply following the Christmas and News Years holidays, President Joe Biden announced that his administration has purchased a half-billion at-home rapid COVID tests, which will be made available next month and will be sent to Americans through the mail.

“We'll be getting this test to Americans for free and we'll have websites where you can get them delivered to your home," Biden said during an address Tuesday.

Pop-up testing sites are also being reported in the lead-up to the holiday to address the surge in demand.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Walgreens has administered nearly 55 million COVID-19 vaccines and more than 22 million COVID-19 tests nationwide.

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