In January 2021, a new Minister of Health took office in Latvia. For the upcoming COVID-19 vaccine rollout, he created a special task force of eight people to manage all components of the initiative for the nation’s population of approximately two million. This included appointment scheduling, vaccine distribution logistics, and public relations encouraging people to get the vaccine.
The country has a phased vaccine rollout plan that defines several groups based upon age, chronic conditions, and job role. As each group becomes eligible, the country will randomly select groups of people to be scheduled for vaccination.
To support its vaccination approach, Latvia is encouraging all residents to pre-register. This simplifies the process of scheduling appointments when a citizen becomes eligible and provides insights on the demand. This information is valuable for planning the logistics of the rollout and for targeting public relations campaigns to increase interest in vaccination.
Pre-registration means that Latvia’s citizens can sign up for vaccination at any time. When the registration program launched, the team knew that they would experience a massive surge in requests. Within the first few weeks of pre-registration, 10% of Latvia’s citizens had signed up.
Māris Dreimanis, Vaccination Project Office IT Coordinator, learned of Project Fair Shot a few weeks before Latvia’s registration system was scheduled to launch. The virtual queueing capabilities that it provided were exactly what he needed to protect the registration system’s backend infrastructure from the anticipated traffic surge on launch day.
Dreimanis and his team created a virtual control room to monitor and manage the launch of the registration system. This room tracked the number of requests received, the requests forwarded to backend servers, and the number and causes of failed requests. They also had the Cloudflare management console open and ready to fine-tune the parameters of the Cloudflare Waiting Room live based upon what they were seeing. This enabled them to increase or decrease the number of people allowed through from the Waiting Room based on the current performance of the backend registration application.
For the first half-hour, the site experienced extremely high traffic, with few thousands requests per second at its peak. For the following 4.5 hours, an estimated 3,000 requests were received each minute.
The Waiting Room was key to a smooth launch of Latvia’s vaccination system. With Project Fair Shot acting as a gateway, no one lost their place in line, and issues, if any, were invisible to users.
According to Dreimanis, Project Fair Shot was essential to a smooth rollout of Latvia’s vaccine registration system. He said, “Cloudflare Waiting Room allowed us to plan for a steady load instead of having a large investment in the infrastructure for the launch. And it helped with communication because it was considered a good service to the public.” Dreimanis and his team received extremely positive feedback on how well the launch went.
Cloudflare Waiting Room is configurable, allowing messages and updates to be displayed to those waiting in the queue. The team used this forum to explain to people that vaccination is not first come, first served, and that registering on launch day or several days later made no difference. As a result, citizens who saw long lines were comfortable leaving and registering later, providing a better user experience for all involved.
Māris Dreimanis and his team’s experience with Project Fair Shot was positive as well. He described it as “well built" and "intuitively understandable." He added, "There’s only three parameters you need to play around with. Since you can do it live, that's all you need.” Without the ability to predict loads or the effects on his systems, a simple, user-friendly interface reduced stress and enabled on-the-fly optimizations.
Project Fair Shot is provided as a free service and is available to any organization scheduling COVID-19 vaccinations, regardless of whether they are a Cloudflare customer. Project Fair Shot was Dreimanis’ first experience with Cloudflare, and he was extremely happy with how it went, saying, “I really like that even though we didn't have any contractual engagement, it felt like I had a trustworthy partner to work with.” He noted they will continue to explore Cloudflare’s product offerings in the future.
Project Fair Shot enabled Latvia’s vaccine registration site to operate despite peak loads of thousands requests per second
On-the-fly tuning allowed live optimization of the registration portal
Cloudflare Waiting Room ensured smooth rollout despite backend server outages
“Cloudflare Waiting Room allowed us to plan for a steady load instead of having a large investment in the infrastructure for the launch. And it helped with communication because it was considered a good service to the public.”
Vaccination Project Office IT Coordinator