HSE Vaccine Portal -Disaster in the making?

Updated: May 3

[May 3 Update- I am glad to see that the portal for 'Joe Public' is a completely different system and appears to be more intuitive than the one reported on below. However I have yet to use the system myself so I don't have hands on experience with it to give an opinion just yet. When I do sign up, I'll be sure to post an update here on my experience ]

With announcements of an HSE online portal for Joe public to register for COVID vaccines been launched next month, I took the liberty to Google said portal and what I found was quite disturbing. Already the HSE has made headlines due to issues with improper vetting of registrants where ordinary people were able to register for vaccines ahead of front line workers because of loopholes in the platforms vetting procedure. You can learn more about that chronicle on Extra.ie

First, off I want to emphasise the platform instructions I've come across (https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/immunisation/hcpinfo/covid19vaccineinfo4hps/using-the-covid-19-vaccines-registration-portal.html) are designed for Health Professionals, not the general public and one would hope the public platform will be a completely different system... But having read a report about the public platform coming on Dublin.ie I shan't hold my breath.

The existing platform for health professionals is primitive, to say the least. Meaning if this is the same platform been used for ordinary people next month we are facing a huge problem for ordinary non-tech savvy people from been able to access the application process. Looking at their help guide website here I discuss in a little detail the issue at hand

First of one can forget about using your phone or tablet because the service is only accessible on a laptop or PC. You will see from the chart above from Statcounter mobile makes up the larger percentage of device usage in Ireland. Although tablets are quite minimal, I do know some people who only have a mobile and tablet and I'm sure you do too.

The next issue is the web browser. Google Chrome is the recommended platform with explicit instructions not to use Internet Explorer as the platform doesn't work on it. The HSE stated Quote:

[the portal ] "may open in browsers such as Firefox or Edge"

No mention of Apple's Safari which is only second place (40%) in the web browser market in Ireland. Google chrome is in first place at 53% according to Statcounter

This is an issue for many people because, for a lot of windows computers, IE or Edge is the default web browser. Meaning for many of us, we are going to have to download Google Chrome. Something a non-tech savvy individual may struggle with particularly if they are using a work device that has restrictions on downloading or if their own device is set up with restricted software downloading from outside the windows walled garden.

Another issue is the default web browser. If your computer is set up to automatically open links in Internet explorer for example the HSE's recommendation in handling this is to copy and paste the link from the address bar to Google Chrome's address bar... I know working with a lot of non-tech-savvy people (of all ages believe it or not) don't even know what I mean by 'address bar'

I want to emphasise that this is the platform been utilised for the HSE workers, so again I would assume that a better newer platform will be available for Joe public but even if this is the case, I feel sorry for the health professionals who have had this drama already.

If this is the platform (or similar) been used for Joe public... then we have an issue on the horizon meaning many people are going to be left struggling and begging for help from friends and family members to help. I hope HSE have this on their mind and are planning accordingly.