Software Glitches Across The U.S. Cause Delays In Vaccine Distribution

The good news is that the COVID-19 vaccine is here, but the rollout has been challenging to say the least. Though, no other state’s deployment of the vaccination has been quite as sloppy as that of California. The state has dealt with computer glitches, shortages of professionals to administer the vaccines, and even strange revelations about the time it takes to administer individual doses.

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There isn’t so much as a vaccine supply shortage as there has been a dismal distribution plan. California has distributed only 28% of the doses received, making it the 44th worst of 50 states. Only 2% of the California population has received a vaccine nearly a month into deployment.

The state is currently using an online software system, PreMod, to coordinate waitlists and inventory and send email confirmation of vaccinations to patients. In Los Angeles, the problems have affected the vaccine waitlist registry and access to registration. Meanwhile, nursing homes also have experienced issues accessing the system.

"There are a multitude of issues with this system," said Michael Wasserman, MD, Medical Director of Reseda, California.-based Eisenberg Village nursing home, adding that it took about a week and a half for his facility to receive its vaccine allotment.

California isn’t the only state dealing with technology issues affecting the vaccine rollout. Software issues in Dallas and Arizona have seen people jumping the vaccine queue, despite not yet being eligible for a dose. "We had a lot of people in North Dallas who were not contacted by us but had it forwarded to them and had found a way to get an appointment," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told CBS DFW.

According to Phoenix New Times, in Arizona, ineligible people booked appointments amid a glitch in the booking website. Similar issues cropped up in New Jersey, where lower-priority groups could sign up for appointments through a MyChart portal.

Meanwhile, Haywood County officials in North Carolina identified and corrected a mistake in its scheduling software, which involved 150 patients erroneously contacted for sign-ups. Those contacted in error were reportedly offered a chance to surrender appointments to those at higher risk.

These glitches amid the rollout may have further delayed vaccinations for vulnerable populations, such as older adults, health care workers, and those with underlying conditions. Difficulties associated with the vaccine process have also resulted in discarded doses of the vaccine, as health care workers scramble to use supplies.

Though there is some good news elsewhere. Coconut Software, a Saskatchewan-based company is offering free services to help Indigenous communities across Canada with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The company will equip communities with the technology to schedule and organize in-person vaccine appointments more efficiently.

With local governments and health organizations reliant on software for the management of vaccine scheduling and distribution, it is imperative that any glitches be resolved to ensure that the time-sensitive vaccine is distributed appropriately.