As about 1 million more people became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday morning, the state-run website that people must use to find and book most appointments has crashed and does not appear to allow residents to schedule vaccinations.

The state's COVID-19 Command Center was not immediately available to provide details, but people visiting the website after 8 a.m. Thursday were met with a message that "this application crashed." Visitors were advised to try again later.

"Due to high volume, is currently experiencing technical difficulties. Appointments at mass vaccination locations have not yet been posted today, but will be made available soon. More updates to follow," the official state government Twitter account posted around 8:45 a.m.

When Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday that people 65 years old or older, the residents and staff of affordable and low-income housing for seniors, and people with two or more health conditions that put them at higher risk for hospitalization or death would be able to start booking vaccination appointments at 8 a.m. Thursday, it represented a doubling of the number of people currently eligible for the limited number of vaccine doses.

The interest was immediate. When word of the governor's announcement got out before his press conference, the website saw about 250,000 visits.

Baker said Wednesday that he thinks the vaccination appointment website "will be in good shape" for the added traffic Thursday morning.

The governor's Thursday schedule did not include a press conference or any event at which he might face live questions from reporters when his office released it at 8 a.m., though he is slated to address the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce virtually at 10 a.m.

--State House News Service

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