IT glitches lead to vaccination slowdown in Arizona

Officials in the state's most populous county said that system hiccups put them days behind in delivering the vaccine to healthcare workers.
By Kat Jercich
01:38 PM
A highway sign with the words "Welcome to Arizona"

Welcome to Arizona, Famartin, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, said glitches in the state's vaccine management system contributed to an initial slowdown in the rollout process. 

Maricopa, which is one of the nation's most populous counties, said that many individuals reported that the system never sent them a scheduling email. Others said they were directed to areas hours outside of the county.

The state vaccine management system was also initially unable to schedule workers' second dose as they received their first dose, further hindering the operation.  


According to NPR affiliate KJZZ, many healthcare workers were directed more than 90 miles away from Phoenix to sites in Globe, Snowflake and Show Low. 

"This brought thousands of calls and emails to Maricopa County from people wanting to know why Maricopa County was sending them so far away," reported KJZZ's Rocio Hernandez.  

Because of this error, Maricopa County signed people up for same-day appointments and sent an email to everyone who had prescreened. Unfortunately, as of Monday, the state vaccine management system reportedly does not allow the administrator to schedule anything other than same-day appointments and does not allow a text message option.  

"This error slowed down the entire vaccine operation and put us days behind in delivering [the] vaccine," said county representatives to KJZZ.  

In addition, the county said that the state vaccine management system did not allow healthcare workers to schedule their second dose as they received their first, which forced Maricopa County to follow up with these individuals later.

Individuals with a Cox email account were also unable to access the state system or appointment time.  

"This was scheduled to be corrected on 12/30, but now a plan needs to be identified for anyone who tried to register with a Cox address," said officials.

Finally, Maricopa County could not bill the administration fee due to issues with the system's inability to download insurance information.  

The state department of health told KJZZ that its vaccine management system has been used without issues in most counties and that two of the four large vaccination providers asked to use their own systems.  


The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has presented a number of logistical hurdles, from supply chain management to patient engagement.  

Industry leaders have noted that a number of tools may prove useful in this process, including smart temperature controls and electronic health record interfaces.

Still, the process has been lumbering even without the inevitable IT hiccups.  


"We have worked closely with Maricopa County to address an interoperability issue between the county’s prescreening tool and the statewide vaccine management system," the Arizona Department of Health Services told KJZZ in a statement.  

"We look forward to the benefits this advance will have for the pace and convenience of COVID-19 vaccination," officials said.


Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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