No fraud: Officials now say overshared link to blame for vaccine clinic confusion

Allegan County

WAYLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Allegan County Health Department officials now say there was no fraudulent activity involved in a link that led many to believe it was their turn to get a COVID-19 vaccine at a recent clinic at Wayland Union High School.

On Monday, the health department said the link used by many was “not something we had created nor did our vendor create,” describing it as “fraudulent.”

On Tuesday, it changed its story. Officials now say the link for the Saturday clinic was legitimate, but also shared too many times to accommodate everyone who signed up.

“It was definitely a valid link in the sense of these are the links that we’re using for our appointments, so people shouldn’t be concerned about their personal information,” Allegan County Health Department Public Information Officer Lindsay Maunz said. “What we found was that this link was getting shared over and over again, and so at that time we noticed that the URL was different from what we were sending, and so at that point we had already been in contact with our vendor and working on correcting the issue.”

Maunz said the department was not prepared for the explosion of shares on social media by friends and family. The link was even shared and used to schedule an appointment by someone out of state. They say shared links will not be accepted.

“We’re asking people not to share appointment links. That is the main point that we’re trying to get across,” Maunz said. “Using a shared link will not get you a vaccine here any faster. We tell everyone to contact us directly at allegancounty.org/COVID. Fill out the ‘I want the COVID vaccine’ form and there is typically a 72-hour turnaround for those eligible to be vaccinated currently.”

Luckily for the more than 100 people who showed up to be vaccinated and were then led to believe their personal information had been compromised, the sheriff’s department and the health department affirm all information is safe.

“The ‘debacle’ is that the appointment link for the Wayland Clinic for last Saturday 3/27/2021 had been shared and re-shared multiple times. We are currently working on implementing a scheduling system that will send individualized links to individuals that so they cannot be used more than once,” Maunz said. “When I said the word fraudulent, what I meant was it was a link not shared from us. But I understand. Bottom line is their information was not compromised.”

That’s welcome news for those turned away from the clinic.

“We’ve been assured by our vendor that the personal information that was collected was not hacked or taken for reasons outside of these vaccine clinics. It was more strictly the link being reshared and reshaped rather than the information itself,” Maunz said. “We’re working hard to make sure this doesn’t happen again, but please only sign up through us. Not links shared to you by someone else.”

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