A Northern Light A.R. Gould hospital employee prepares to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.  Credit: Courtesy of Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital

The web page hosting Northern Light Health’s vaccine signup portal went down shortly after a new set of appointments became available Monday afternoon as a new web server malfunctioned, according to the hospital network.

The portal was back up as of 3:40 p.m., with several hundred slots listed as still available at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor for Feb. 9 and Feb. 11. An additional 37 slots were still available for Tuesday, the first day the Bangor arena was to open as a mass COVID-19 vaccination site for residents 70 and older.

The hospital network said it had added multiple servers over the weekend to increase signup capacity. But one of those servers malfunctioned shortly after 2 p.m., when signup on the web page, covid.northernlighthealth.org/publicvaccine, opened for a newly available set of vaccination appointments, the hospital network said in a Facebook post just before 3 p.m.

The outage halted vaccine signups.

The hospital network also said in its Facebook post that the phone system for vaccine signups had been overwhelmed, with all lines busy Monday afternoon and the holding area for calls full.

Northern Light isn’t alone in being overwhelmed by vaccine appointment inquiries. MaineGeneral Health in Augusta received 400,000 calls on Friday alone, when it opened vaccine registration to the public.

In a news conference held shortly before the vaccine portal went down on Monday, Northern Light Health Senior Physician Executive Dr. James Jarvis said the network was looking to improve the vaccination call center and web portal.

While saying that he understood people’s frustration, Jarvis noted improvements Northern Light had recently made to both the call center and online portal.

“Be patient with us,” Jarvis said. “We are building this as we speak.”