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New $6M vaccine appointment system launched: ‘So far, so good’

Updated February 25, 2021 - 10:14 am

Nevada’s new $6 million vaccine management and appointment system has debuted in Clark County for eligible Nevadans.

People making appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine to be administered at the Southern Nevada Health District’s headquarters are the first to use the new system, district officials said Wednesday.

The program went live online Monday, and the first person “actually showed up on-site” for appointments Tuesday, said Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Administrator Julia Peek. State leaders wanted a system that was easy for people to use; she thinks they have found one that helps Nevadans book appointments, complete paperwork and receive reminders.

“They don’t necessarily want to know how the sausage is made, for lack of a better phrase, but they want to enjoy the sausage,” Peek said Wednesday on a noon media call.

Nevadans can search the system for available appointments and directly register for their first or second dose. Anyone unable to find an appointment in the system will be able to leave their name and contact information on a wait list, agency Chief Information Officer Jason Frame said last week.

The cloud-based vaccination management system was built by technology services company MTX Group. Salesforce, the same company from which Nevada purchased its contact tracing software last year, is a partner on the project.

The state’s contract with the appointment system runs through June 2022 and will cost a little more than $6 million, according to Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Shannon Litz. The program will help local health departments maintain site and event schedules, manage inventory and handle “flow-through of vaccinations,” she said.

Having a statewide system will also 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.

“Currently multiple systems are being used to deliver vaccines and this statewide solution will streamline vaccine management efforts and allow local jurisdictions and the State to report more efficiently,” Litz wrote in an email, adding that “some providers will continue to use their existing appointment systems.”

It was “so far, so good” after the first day of appointments Tuesday at the health district, though “there’s bugs that need to be worked out,” said JoAnn Rupiper, director of clinical services. She later added that the unspecified bugs were fixed Tuesday and she was “still awaiting status” for Wednesday.

“This was a project that was done in three weeks,” Rupiper said. “So, if you know anything about implementing programs like that for health care, that’s pretty amazing.”

Launching at the relatively small vaccination site at the health district, where only a few hundred doses are administered each week, will give officials time to work out bugs, Frame said.

The county’s mass vaccination sites at Cashman Center and the Las Vegas Convention Center should be using it by early March. So will smaller sites operated by local cities and the health district’s temporary pop-up clinics.

“Having all of these groups in one centralized system, it will allow a patient to find an event without going to multiple websites to find an appointment,” Frame said.

The system is already in use in Arizona, Utah, Chicago and New York City, he said.

“New York City is much bigger than Las Vegas, so we are comfortable it will handle the load that we put to it,” he said. “It will have pretty much infinite scalability.”

Frame said the old system “got the job done, but it could have been much better for our patients.” The new system will eventually be used for more than just the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We looked at this as not a one-time fix but a long-term move away from what we currently have,” he said.

Eligible Nevadans can schedule an appointment online at vax4nv.nv.gov or by reaching the state’s vaccination call center at 1-(800)-401-0946, open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Contact Mike Shoro at mshoro@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @mike_shoro on Twitter. Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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