Americans eligible for coronavirus vaccines are still struggling to get appointments.
"Every clinic, every hospital has its own mechanism of communicating, recruiting, and setting up appointments," Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi's state health officer, said in a Thursday press briefing. "That's the real challenge because we have basically 100 different ways to do the same thing."
It wasn't supposed to be this difficult. In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed a $16 million deal with the consulting firm Deloitte, a top federal IT contractor, to create a centralized website through which states could schedule their vaccine appointments. The system was also meant to monitor vaccine inventory and report each shot as it was administered. Deloitte received another $28 million for the project in December — bringing the total to $44 million.
The tool the company produced is called the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS). State officials and health clinics can use the site for free to coordinate their vaccine rollouts. But in the end, only nine states opted in, with the rest — Mississippi included — deciding against VAMS. Many said no to the system due to concerns about its performance.