RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia launched its new statewide COVID-19 vaccine registration system Tuesday, but it was having some issues after experiencing a high volume of traffic.

“The Virginia Department of Health expects millions of unique visits to the site on Tuesday, and IT teams will be addressing back-end components as needed throughout the day. Anyone who cannot get through immediately should try again,” VDH said in a press release.

Issues and questions

WAVY viewer Katherine Blanton tried logging on Tuesday to the pre-registration site and called it a “disaster.”

“The system crashed right away, and we tried to get on the website and navigate it and in the beginning, we couldn’t,” she said.

Once the user is able to access the website link for direct pre-registration, it is easy to answer the questions on the form and move to the next page. It takes no more than five minutes to complete the registration.

Blanton tried to reach out to the Virginia Department of Health, and got the same response 10 On Your Side did: nothing. No returned calls.

Sharon Elliot also had questions that went unanswered.

“My mother is 87, legally blind, and depending on me who is hundreds of miles away.  I need to do this for her, and I’m having to go through this and I’m getting more from the WAVY-TV 10 website rather than the VDH website,” she said. 

Elliot got the link for the new central pre-registration site, registered her mother, but had already registered her locally.

“Here’s a question: I have already pre-registered her through Hampton, and I registered her this morning, thankfully through the link I found on,” she said. 

Does her mother go to the end of the line? Does she lose her place?  In a news release, the Virginia Health Department said everyone who has previously registered is still on the list, and their status will not be affected.” 

How it works

When functioning, the website allows you to pre-register online to get a shot through the Virginia Department of Health, when you’re eligible and the vaccine is available. The site does not allow you to schedule an appointment.

VDH will contact you through a phone call, text or email when you’re eligible for an appointment. You’ll get a confirmation number, and VDH will send weekly updates online.

Your local health district will still select who is scheduled for the vaccine, but now they will have consistent data to make those decisions. Virginia is still currently in phase 1b of vaccinations, which is expected to take at least another month. 1b includes front-line essential workers (police/fire, grocery store workers, etc.), teachers and more.

If you have already pre-registered, you will not have to do register again. If you’re not sure, the new statewide pre-registration site allows you to check. Health officials ask that you do not submit another form because it could cause a delay in the process. Click here to find out if you’re already pre-registered.

If you don’t see that you’re registered right away, don’t worry, VDH says.

“Virginians who have previously pre-registered through their local health district have been automatically imported into the new system and do not need to pre-register again. Data migration is continuing throughout the week and it may take several days for your name to appear in the centralized system,” VDH said. “Everyone who has previously registered is still on the list, and their status will not be affected.”

10 On Your Side heard from several people, including Elliot, who were able to pre-register again on the new site, even though they had previously registered.

However, if you’re trying to get a vaccine through CVS, VDH says you’ll have to keep checking CVS’ website for appointment slots. Technological limits with CVS Pharmacy’s national appointment system don’t allow VDH’s pre-registration system to sync up.

If you have questions or want to register by phone instead of the internet, there will be a statewide call center that will launch on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

Blanton’s helping an uncle with special needs get the COVID-19 vaccine, but he doesn’t have internet and that is a huge challenge for the family.

“When they went online for our registration to receive the vaccine, it causes a big problem for our family because he does not have access to the internet, he does not use text messaging or email. He doesn’t even use voice mail in his home,” she said.

Blanton lives in South Carolina, her uncle is in the western part of Virginia, but she found WAVY online to vent.

“We have been preparing for this for almost a year, and it is disappointing that there isn’t a more cohesive system in place to make this rollout as simple as possible, so we can get people vaccinated,” Blanton said. 

Governor Ralph Northam will give more information about the hotline and other updates during a press conference on Wednesday, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. WAVY News 10 will carry it live on-air and here, on