Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.’s


WBA -0.04%

online vaccine-booking system stopped working for several hours on Tuesday, preventing people from making appointments to get a Covid-19 vaccine.

Visitors to the

Walgreens

website were unable to log into a Walgreens.com account, a step required to book a vaccine appointment or conduct other business with the pharmacy, such as filling prescriptions. People took to social media to complain, saying they also were unable to get help through online chats or by calling.

The glitch happened as the drugstore chain announced it is expanding its partnership with the U.S. government to administer vaccines in 43 states and jurisdictions, up from 27.

Alerts and web-browser tools can help you book a Covid-19 vaccine appointment. WSJ’s Joanna Stern met up with Kris Slevens, an IT guy who has booked over 300 appointments for New Jersey seniors, to learn the best tricks to compete in the vaccine-booking Hunger Games. Photo illustration: Emil Lendof for The Wall Street Journal

Walgreens is a major provider of vaccines through the federal inoculation program, having administered about 8% of nearly 60 million shots given since vaccinations began in December.

Across the county, vaccine seekers have struggled with a patchwork of glitchy, hard-to-navigate and disjointed appointment-booking systems, further complicating a process already challenged by limited supply of vaccines.

A Walgreens spokeswoman said the site outage was unrelated to a new booking system the chain put in place on Friday. Under the new system, Walgreens now requires people to schedule an appointment for a second dose at the same time they book their first.

The site was down for about four hours on Tuesday, coming back online shortly after noon Eastern Time.

The two Covid-19 vaccines initially authorized in the U.S., from

Moderna Inc.

and from a partnership between

Pfizer Inc.

and Germany’s

BioNTech SE,

entails a two-dose regimen. A third vaccine by

Johnson & Johnson

calls for only one dose.

Across the country people have reported long wait times and difficulty finding appointments to receive a second dose, similar to challenges in getting initial shots.

Walgreens’s social-media team, responding on Twitter to complaints about the vaccine-scheduling site being inaccessible, addressed challenges with second doses.

“To ensure access to both doses, it is required to schedule them together,” the company’s “Social Care Team” said in a tweet. “Unfortunately the high demand for appointments, often combined with limited inventory is exceeding the appointment availability.”

Walgreens said it has yet to compile significant data on administration of second doses. Relatively few people have received a second shot since it is still early in the process. Meantime, a number of people have either received their second dose from another provider or are having difficulty scheduling an appointment to receive one.

For More Information

Covid-19 vaccinations are only by appointment and for people who meet local eligibility requirements. Check for the latest here:

Write to Sharon Terlep at sharon.terlep@wsj.com

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