top of page

Why is vaccine signup not like getting Taylor Swift tickets?

Minus the scalpers of course.

Some say the definition of an MVP should be something that you are embarrassed by. If that’s the case, then suggesting that seniors 75+ would be successful with the current MA vaccine system is an embarrassment.

This is not to suggest that seniors are incapable of engaging in a digital experience - but in some ways it’s a miracle that individuals are even getting vaccinated. As someone who is heavily invested in getting her grandfather vaccinated as soon as possible, I’ve been checking all the sites with regularity.

Quick Thoughts:

  • Why is the experience not like buying tickets to Taylor Swift or Beyonce?

  • The ability to even see if there are shots available is buried so deep on certain sites.

  • If airline ticket brokers can all work with Google flights, why is this not possible?

The Numbers

If this was just a MA problem, I’d find more opportunity for forgiveness but this is a national rollout. As of this week, 78% of the sites in Massachusetts were represented by 8 distributors. This presents an opportunity for a far more cohesive experience. Given that all of these distributors are also working with other states I would perceive this to be an API integration worth investing in.


I’ve often heard you shouldn’t present problems without potential solutions. Here are the problems as I see them:

  • Challenging and long user flows

  • Appointments gone before user completes flow

  • Fragmented user experience

  • Lack of accessibility

  • Poor user education

Every shot given is a life saved, so let’s see what solutions can be moved on quickly. Time is of the essence. Even if we aren’t theoretically leaving any wasted shots or appointments unused, the poor registration experience is taxing our communities and public servants to an unnecessary level. Unnecessary not because the challenge is lacking value, but due to the ridiculous waste. Like any size-able product management challenge, there are many potential solutions.

Option 1 - Bare minimum?

Improve the site experience for the bulk of appointments

I took a stab at rearranging the existing information architecture to be a more friendly experience. I moved high priority information to get better attention and removed duplicate or informational text to different locations.

Step 1: This is a standard listing on the MA immunizations website.

Step 2: I moved the most important warning to the very top of the page instead of duplicating it on every listing.

Step 3: For those lucky enough to get appointments, I moved the information to the confirmation email. By including this additional context in the follow-up email, it makes it easier for the patient to reference details specific to this vaccination site.

Option 2 - Ability to check appointments

In some cases, there are far too many clicks to get validation that an appointment is available - or not available in most cases. For the 7 retail distributors called out before, I went through each of the flows as much as I could.

For perspective, here is what they look like at a screen level so you can see the magnitude of the CVS clicks required to even see if an appointment is available. If you want to see these screens in detail, here is the Miro board.

The CVS case was particularly interesting to me because they are positioned as “healthcare” more so than the other grocery stores. I could be missing something, but I’m not clear why making a vaccine appointment needs to require so many more validation steps than COVID testing.

Option 3 - One consolidated website might be a dream, but what about one website that actually links to others?

This would be the lowest lift in terms of technical development. In fact, I almost built this for fun on a Wix website. Maybe I still will.


Are these problems that you are trying to solve for your business? Or maybe you just like to talk about eCommerce and digital strategies? Let’s talk.

This post can also be found on my Substack.


bottom of page