Poland Apologizes for Vaccination Chaos as Pandemic Rages On

Poland’s government apologized for a glitch that threw its vaccination efforts into disarray on a day the country registered a record in new coronavirus infections.

Michal Dworczyk, the head of the prime minister’s chancellery who oversees the rollout, said he was sorry after a “system error” on a government website unexpectedly allowed 40 and 50 year olds to sign up for shots a month ahead of schedule, and before many older residents got their vaccinations. The website crashed and several hours later, some of the new appointments were canceled.

Adding to the confusion, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski appeared unaware of the previously unannounced change in policy. Word of available slots for vaccinations quickly spread across social media early on Thursday, with some initially dismissing it as an April Fool’s day hoax.

Meanwhile, 35,251 new Covid infections were registered over the last 24 hours, another record that’s set to add strain to a health-care system already near breaking point. A further 621 Poles died from the virus, increasing the death toll to 53,665. Besides the economic fallout of the pandemic, Poland’s persistent problems with the virus are also curbing the popularity of the ruling Law & Justice party.

Making things worse for the cabinet -- which has for months been gripped by infighting between coalition partners -- Poland has been a relative laggard in the vaccination process, even compared with European Union peers, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Several recent opinion polls show the ruling group’s popularity down to about 30%, less than the two top opposition parties combined.

“This morning’s debacle proved that the Law & Justice government and its pandemic efforts are in chaos,” said Krzysztof Gawkowski, a lawmaker from the opposition Left party. He wants an inquiry into the vaccination program.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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