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New Nevada vaccine appointment system coming to ease problems

Updated February 17, 2021 - 7:20 pm

Nevada is on the cusp of launching a statewide COVID-19 vaccine appointment registration system, with a soft launch planned in Clark County next week.

Officials expect the new unified system will replace individual ones currently used by local governments. Several of those systems have been prone to technological errors as anxious residents try to schedule appointments.

The technology behind the state’s system will be provided by Salesforce, the same company that Nevada purchased its contact tracing software from last year, according to local officials knowledgeable about the project.

Nevada Department of Health and Human Services officials have declined multiple interview requests about the new system. During a press conference Wednesday, DHHS deputy administrator Julia Peek confirmed the system would debut in Clark County “in the coming weeks.”

“It is a voluntary system,” she said. “The state purchased it, and it can be used by anyone.”

Clark County Fire Chief John Steinbeck said one of the county’s smaller vaccine clinics will begin using the new registration system next week as part of a soft launch. If all goes well, it will soon be used at the region’s largest immunization operations.

“Our expectation is that everything we run out of Southern Nevada Health District will end up utilizing this site at some point in time,” Steinbeck said. “We expect the city partners will also use this at some point in time.”

Thus far, the county’s municipal governments and the health district have operated their own individual appointment registration web portals. Many residents have reported frustrating site crashes and technology glitches that prevented them from booking appointments.

“The big key for us is that it doesn’t crash,” Steinbeck said. “All we want to do is make it easier for people to get their appointments, and make it less stressful to get vaccinated.”

The disjointed efforts have also led to some residents double-booking appointments, forcing the health district to cancel the duplicates. Despite such efforts, no-shows continue to miss approximately 15 percent of available appointments.

“Up to 10,000 of those were identified last week, and it’s very problematic,” said Greg Cassell, a former county fire chief who serves on the health district’s incident management team.

It should be simpler for residents to cancel appointments under the new statewide system, Steinbeck said. It will also help officials reduce time spent on data entry by streamlining the patient information collection process and automatically uploading it to the state’s vaccination database.

Having a statewide system will make it easier for workers at the state’s new vaccination call center to help Nevadans book appointments if they are having difficulties using web portals, Peek said. California began using Salesforce technology to register residents for appointments this January, the San Francisco Business Times reports.

However, one local government official said he is concerned that his team has not yet received detailed information about how the Salesforce system will operate.

“Not having eyes on it, not seeing it, not feeling it, is always concerning,” said the official, who spoke about the project on the condition of anonymity. “I honestly know zero about Salesforce.”

Peek said the state will conduct training within days of the system’s launch date. The decision was made based on feedback from local government officials.

“They don’t want to get trained on a system and implement a month later,” she said. “All of us have challenges remembering how to use the system after a month.”

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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