Governor Kim Reynolds has canceled the contract for Microsoft to build a website for Iowans to schedule a Covid shot.
“It quickly became apparent that integrating the many already existing administration and scheduling platforms that are used by some of our public health departments, pharmacies as well as other vaccine providers, it would not be possible in a timely without disruptions in their current systems,” Reynolds said late this morning, “and we did not want to slow down…the progress that we are making.”
State public health officials say there are as many as 700 different providers giving vaccinations in Iowa that Microsoft would have had to merge into one website.
“When we really dug into what the options were and what was available and the timeline to get that done, it just didn’t make sense for us to move forward,” the governor said, “especially with the registration and scheduling component because of all of the different providers that are tied into that right now and the systems that they had.”
In addition to the 99 county public health departments in Iowa, pharmacies, hospitals and health clinics have been giving Covid shots. The state is scheduled to receive nearly 62,000 first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines next week, a 24% increase from this week’s allotment. State officials are encouraging providers to quickly schedule appointments based on that higher allocation.
“So we’re now shifting our focus from building a different system to optimizing the overall registration and scheduling process for Iowans,” Reynolds said, “and this will be done in close partnership with our local public healths to our vaccine providers.”
Reynolds, who held a televised news conference late this morning, said there is an effort to train the operators who answer calls to 211.
“We want to make sure that we have it staffed appropriately,” Reynolds said, “that we are helping individuals that can’t utilize the technology and go online and look for an appointment.”
In the meantime, Iowans eligible for vaccinations are encouraged to call their local Area Agency on Aging for assistance if they’re having trouble navigating online scheduling systems.
“We know that barriers still remain for Iowans who are currently eligible and we’re actively determining how we can leverage existing partnerships to provide an easier alternative to online scheduling,” Reynolds said.
State officials are also encouraging county public health departments and pharmacies to schedule more vaccinations on weekends, when it may be more convenient for people who cannot get to a vaccination site during the week.