McLean County has shifted to a new COVID=19 vaccine signup platform after many people have reported problems getting notifications about upcoming clinics.
That has led to frustration for those who tried to navigate the signup process to secure a vaccine from a limited supply.
McLean County Health Department Administrator Jessica McKnight said the program run by SignUpGenius worked when frontline health care workers were getting vaccinated.
“We used it for (Phase) 1A and it worked very well, so we decided to try using it for 1B and it took about one week or two to realize it was not going to be user-friendly,” McKnight said.
McKnight said about 12,000 people in the 1B population had signed up through SignUpGenius. That includes essential workers and people 65 and older. She said that overloaded the system.
“The capacity issue came more in SignUpGenius sending out email alerts, updates and communication. That’s where the capacity limit was reached,” McKnight said.
The county has since gone to the Illinois Department of Public Health’s EMTrack system for vaccine scheduling. EMTrack and SignUpGenious both come at no cost to the county.
McKnight said the county didn't know how much capacity SignUpGenius had and the county hadn’t tested it ahead of time. Many local health authorities across the country have turned to web-based scheduling services that are typically used for small events like birthday parties and potlucks.
McKnight suggested a more coordinated response from the state or federal government would help local health departments that are trying to manage a global pandemic following years of budget cuts and staffs that have been stretched thin.
“Public health has seen its share of struggles and if we had a response that everyone was doing the same thing, I believe we would see different results,” said McKnight, adding the county had planned to shift to EMTrack later once vaccinations were more widely available.
“We were looking forward to those days where we have those really large clinics, lots of vaccine available and knowing it’s designed to really work well with that,” said McKnight; the problems with SignUpGenius accelerated the timeline.
McKnight said EMTrack is more user-friendly and more secure, though there’s been an adjustment period for the new platform. Some people who showed up to get the vaccine hadn't finished registration. It requires an email confirmation.
The McLean County Health Department (MCHD) has a registration tutorial on its website. Anyone unable to navigate the registration process online can call the department's COVID call center at (309) 888-5600 weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
McKnight again urged patience as people wait for a chance to get vaccinated.
“I thank the public for the patience they have shown thus far. It will take us time. We have got to come together and support one another in this process,” she said.
About 16,000 COVID vaccine doses have been administered so far in McLean County. Currently, 1.7% of the county population has received both vaccine doses. The state average is 2%.
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