Seattle suddenly cancels 1,200 Lumen Field vaccine appointments

SEATTLE — Seattle canceled 1,200 vaccine appointments at Lumen Field on Tuesday, catching people by surprise. The appointments were largely for the end of this week – the first days of eligibility opening to the general public.

The cancellations happened several hours before any explanation, sparking frustration and disappointment in a private “vaccine hunters” group on Facebook.

Several KIRO7 employees were among those with canceled appointments.

“I was definitely excited to finally get it and just kind of got slapped in the face - no you have to wait again,” said Eddie Galdamez, who said he booked his Pfizer shot 1 and shot 2 appointments two weeks ago. Both appointments were canceled.

The vaccinations administered at Lumen Field are Pfizer. But with the cancellations coming on the same day the CDC and FDA recommended a halt of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine due a very rare blood clot issue that may be tied to the vaccine, it had people wondering if the Lumen Field cancellations were related.

“I just assumed they were going to move all of our first doses to the people who were scheduled for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine,” said Alicia Collins, who also works at KIRO7. Collins said she booked her appointment about a week ago.

“It’s two days away and I just didn’t expect it to be canceled,” Collins said.

The city later sent an email to those who had appointments canceled, saying the links that people used to book appointments were intended for volunteers, or other specific groups of people.

A spokesperson said over the phone that people had posted private links intended for people disproportionately impacted by the virus, or people who were helping out at Lumen Field, onto social media and sites like Reddit.

“The primary driver of the surge in improper registrations that forced us to close the link was the Reddit posting,” said City spokesperson Kelsey Nyland said in an email.

Several people, both in the private “vaccine hunters” group and at KIRO7, indicated they found the links on CovidWA.com. The volunteer-run website acknowledged it also posted links before it knew those links were not intended for the general public. Co-founder of the site, George Hu, said in an email, “In late March we shared links shared to us by social media before a request by the Mayor’s office on April 1st to not do so, and that has not happened since then.”

(The state’s official vaccine locator website is https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov/ and uses some data provided by COVIDWa.com.)

If your appointment was canceled, the city of Seattle says people should register to be notified via email when an appointment is available – but warns you may not get a link right away after eligibility opens.

“There are 150,000 people on our notification list, and we received 30,000 doses last week,” Nyland said.

The email to people with canceled appointments said, “The City is forced to immediately shut down links that are posted on social media.”

As for the Johnson and Johnson halt, Nyland said only the West Seattle vaccination site was administering the J&J vaccine and was planning to switch to the Pfizer vaccine beginning on Wednesday. The site switched to using the Pfizer vaccine one day early after the J&J halt.